Mind & Matter


Five in Five

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Simulation of highly-distributed consumer-powered sensors. Image courtesy of IBM.


For the fifth year running, IBM has unveiled its “Next 5 in 5,” a forecast of five innovations that will “change the way we live, work and play” during the next five years. This year’s list emphasizes the emerging capabilities of digital interfaces and their transformative influence on physical environments. It also highlights future energy-saving strategies.

“You'll beam up your friends in 3-D” envisions the next chapter in three-dimensional video projection in the form of realistic, interactive holograms.

“Batteries will breathe air to power our devices” presages batteries that harness energy from the air or battery-free devices that are powered by a technique called "energy scavenging."

“You won’t need to be a scientist to save the planet” predicts the ability for the scientific community to harness massive data sets from a highly distributed network of consumer-driven sensors.

“Your commute will be personalized” anticipates highly intelligent GPS-based navigation systems that monitor changing variables such as traffic conditions and parking availability.

Finally, “Computers will help energize your city” advocates a sensible solution for the heat waste generated by server rooms and data centers, which might one day result in an 85 percent carbon footprint reduction.

As in past lists, this selection comprises both far-fetched as well as slightly more believable technological changes. Not only are IBM’s predictions intriguing at an individual level, but also in terms of their potential synthesis. Creating robust data sets from energy scavenging sensors makes practical sense, for example, as does the use of holographic techniques to visualize highly complex information.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.