Friday, December 24, 2010

IBM Look Into The Big Blue Skies

Remember that once technology giant IBM? There was a saying once, ‘you never get the sack for buying IBM,’ but those heady days of mainframe and mid range computing have long gone and IBM is now more into services than computing technology.

Today they have gazed into their crystal ball surveyed its 3,000 researchers and come up with their predictions of what will take hold in the next 5 years.

1. Holographic conversations, projected from mobile phones. We question not the prediction but the application.

2. Air- breathing batteries, which will ditch the current lithium-ion technology and could rely on energy-dense metals that only need to interact with the air to recharge. Alternatively some electronic devices may simple adopt kinetic energy. We believe that it would be great to dump the current environmental unfriendly but unless driven by a strong environmental lobby and statute this may take time to gain adoption.

3. Computer programs that will use algorithms and real-time traffic information to predict which roads will have jams, and inform you how to avoid getting stuck. We believe that this would be every drivers dream but question whether it will merely shift the problem or spread the throughput.

4. Environmental information generated by sensors in cars and phones. This probably has legs as we move into the crowd-sourcing world.

5. Cities powered by the heat thrown off by computer servers. Initially this seems very half-baked but it is based on the fact that some 50% of the power consumed by data centres is expended in keeping the computers cool. It’s a pity IBM don’t start to tackle it themselves but the question remains, what will cool the machines not how with we use the expended hot air.

IBM is currently investing some $5.8 billion, or 6% of it revenue, into research and development and although their track record on previous predictions is not encouraging, its always good to hear their thinking.

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