IBM bringing you walking holograms and batteries powered by air

Every year, IBM decides what five technologies it thinks are going to make it big in the next five years, based on their research and emerging trends. Some of it is dull and more or less already here, but some of it — like walking holograms — is crazy and awesome.

Sensors everywhere: We're all walking around with mobile computers, so privacy concerns aside, it makes sense to have them paying attention to little things all the time, even as we don't. By compiling massive amounts of simple data, you'll be able to get weather forecasts down to the yard, and scientists could use the same data sets to, say, make super accurate climate change models.

3D holograms: Holographic video is just sort of barely possible at the moment, but IBM seems to think that we'll all be walking around with little 3D holographic projectors within five years. I can buy the idea of a desktop holographic video projector, but in a cell phone? In five years? I call shenanigans. IBM, prove me wrong.

New battery tech: Battery life going up by a factor of ten? It had better happen in five years, and if it does, I'll be relieved, not impressed. But a battery powered by air? I can't see how it would possibly work, but who cares, sign me up anyway. And I'll take the ability to charge my cell phone by rubbing on my sleeve, too. That, at least, I can make sense of.

Waste heat harvesting: Google says that using waste heat to generate power is currently not commercially practical to implement in their data centers, which I believe, but it's easy to see how within five years, it could make both environmental and fiscal sense. Meantime, I'll still be running 3DMark over and over when it gets cold in my office.

Personalized commute: I honestly don't get how IBM thinks that it can reduce traffic with information. I understand that it might be possible to suggest alternate routes based on traffic accident reports or scheduled construction, but when it comes down to it, there are lots of people who need to get from point A to point B all at the same time and a decidedly finite number of ways in which they can do it. It's all relative I guess, and more efficiency is better than less efficiency, but my money's still on robotic road trains.

It's worth mentioning that this stuff is based on "emerging technologies from IBM's Labs around the world," so IBM's not just making these predictions up out of nowhere. There's solid research going on, and maybe some of these things are even fully armed and operational in a secret IBM underground bunker somewhere. Holograms, please let it be the holograms.

Hit up the video for IBM's barely animated take on all of these predictions.

IBM Labs, via NBF

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