IBM: PCs will get a sense of smell in five years

What will be the next innovations in technology and computing in five years? That's the question that IBM is trying to answer today in their annual "5 in 5" list. This year, IBM's predictions are centered on the five human senses and how they could be extended via techology.

For example, IBM predicts that in five years, people will be able to touch and feel items remotely via a smartphone. IBM states:

We’re not ready to virtually high-five Tupac Shakur’s hologram through a phone – yet. Soon though, the phone will be able to emit a field of vibrations. Just millimeters from the screen. And the vibrations will be subtle. Your phone won’t shake out of your hand, but will deliver a recognizable sensation. Imagine shopping for a wedding dress on a phone or tablet, and being able to feel the satin gown, or even the intricate beading and buttons, or the lace on the veil.

PCs could also be taught to not only see images but also to understand them in a few years, according to IBM; a computer could recognize patterns in a series of images. For example, it could view images of a person's skin over and look for patterns that might turn into skin cancer.

What about sound? IBM predicts that future smartphones could improve a person's hearing. It states:

A smartphone, associated with an ultrasonic system, could turn the speaker’s voice into an ultrasonic frequency that cuts through sounds in the room to be delivered to, and re-translated for only the recipient of the message (who will hear the message as if the speaker was standing close by – no receiving device needed).

PCs could also be used to create a personal menu for a person based on their favorite flavors and tastes combined with the best nutritional formula. Finally, IBM thinks that a PC could be created to detect and identify odors in the air. It states, "The same smell technology, combined with deep learning systems, could troubleshoot operating-room hygiene, crops' soil conditions or a city's sanitation system before the human nose knows there's a problem."

Source: IBM

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The same smell technology, combined with deep learning systems, could troubleshoot operating-room hygiene, crops' soil conditions or a city's sanitation system...

How about troubleshooting the hygiene of some MMORP players?

I expect some of the guys that sit in their underpants all day could do with real-time notifications such as 'Take a shower' or 'Empty your p*ss bucket' etc.

Well you could argue that it has become a Wallet with NFC, and things like barcode scanning does help to compare prices (via the iOS app Scope).

Enron said,
No it's actually pretty awesome. Some day they'll have smell detectors on robotic police dogs.

Police dogs is different from a Personal Computer.

But yeah it's a great idea from that point of view.

kinpin said,
I don't know but this already existed in 2003. I remember reading an article from Times.

Where is the article?

Not 2003 but it does exist. Some japanese researchers can reproduce thousands of smells using only 5 base smells and a highly-advanced computer system, and were designing it to be used on TVs, but there's nothing to detect smells that you could record it with.

I dunno, while I think most people would love a flying car... to have the ability to login to their PC by farting? I think it'd be a great excuse to pass wind in the office without blaming it on the photocopier's bad smelling toner.