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IBM’s 5 In 5 list this year looks at “how computers will mimic the senses” and relate to the right hand side of the human brain, according to Bernard Meyerson, chief innovation officer at IBM. Past predictions have included passwords based on a person’s psychological makeup and “mind-reading headsets”.

But how many of the past predictions have actually come true?  Five years ago the list predicted that tickets, keys and cash would soon be replaced by a single phone. Whilst most still rely on more than just a phone, CASSIS international and IBM are creating a ‘Smart Poster Management System’ whereby passengers can use phones as train and bus tickets and can also tap a Smart Poster to receive detailed product and location information.

Mr Meyerson insists we will not see computers taking over the world. “I don’t believe that cognitive systems will usurp the role of human thinkers,” he said. “Rather, they’ll make us more capable and more successful – and, hopefully, better stewards of the planet.”

Here is this year’s list in full:

Seeing

New recognition systems will enable specific visual features to be identified and isolated. This could mean pinpointing a particular face in a crowd or even saving lives by spotting medical anomalies.

Smelling

Phones could soon develop a nose more sensitive than our own, able to assess cleanliness of a room or a person’s breath.

Hearing

Technology could also surpass human ears. For example by detecting vibrations leading to a bridge or tree collapsing.

Tasting

Knowledge of a person’s favourite flavours and nutritional facts could create personalised recipes on a computer.

Touching

Online shopping not sensual enough? Soon shoppers could feel the material of their purchases online using infrared and haptic technologies.

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