December 25, 2007, 8:17 PM — Drained by your commute? Blood-sucking utility bills got you down? Wondering
if that tomato in your dinner salad was really organic?
The cures to those ills and more may arrive within five years, according to
The company recently released its second annual set of "Next Five in Five"
predictions, visions that sketch out a future where driving is a relative pleasure,
eco-friendly devices save you money and super doctors use advanced technology
to probe your body's innermost depths in search of disease.
IBM's contention that driving will become safer and less aggravating may be
particularly tantalizing for many.
The company said
that during the next five years, a "wave of connectivity" between
vehicles and roadways will help keep traffic flowing smoothly, drive down pollution
and get you to your destination easier, "without the stress."
This will be accomplished through "intelligent" traffic systems that
automatically adjust light patterns and shift traffic to alternative routes,
as well as cars that exhibit "reflexes" thanks to communication with
other vehicles and roadside sensors, according to IBM.
The company's crystal ball also revealed that the long-simmering trend toward
"smart energy" devices will proliferate wildly. "Dishwashers,
air conditioners, house lights, and more will be connected directly to a 'smart'
electric grid, making it possible to turn them on and off using your cell phone
or any Web browser," a company statement asserts.
Even the act of eating will take on new meaning, in IBM's view: "You will
know everything from the climate and soil the food was grown in, to the pesticides
and pollution it was exposed to, to the energy consumed to create the product,
to the temperature and air quality of the shipping containers it traveled through
on the way to your dinner table."
The report also suggests that doctors' ability to heal us will become even
more astounding. Due to advances in X-ray and audio technologies, doctors will
gain "superpowers," according to IBM. Computers will also be able
to compare your health data to an ocean's worth of other patient records, helping
with diagnosis and treatment, the company said.
In addition, the company said cell phones will continue to grow in power and
functionality. For example, phones will enable users to snap a photo of an article
of clothing, pull in results from the Web about the brand and where to buy it,
and then render the garment on top of a 3-D image of the user, IBM said.