Small Businesses Get Futuristic

From batteries that breathe air to traffic-free commutes, the next five years will be full of futuristic technology that will transform the way you work and play, according to predictions from IBM.

For the last five years Armonk, New York-based IBM (IBM) has been making its “Next Five in Five,” predictions, which are based on social trends and emerging technology coming out of IBM’s labs.

Taking a page from Star Wars, IBM scientists predict that in the next five years 3-D interfaces, similar to the ones seen on movie screens and televisions, will enable you to interact with 3-D holograms of your friends, co-workers or business associates in real time. While TV and movie screens are already perfecting 3-D technology it won’t be long before the technology miniaturizes and finds its way into mobile devices. With the technology you’ll be able to chat with your friends or business associates in 3-D. You’ll even be able to interact with photos, presentations and surf the Web all in 3-D and in real time.

What small business owner doesn’t know the frustration of waiting for an important email or phone call only to find the charge on their battery was dead? Well in five years, according to IBM, that won’t be a problem at all. That’s because IBM predicts that in the next five years advances in transistor and battery technology will enable mobile devices to last ten times longer than they do now. In smaller devices, batteries may become obsolete.

Scientists are currently working on batteries that use air to react with energy dense metal, promising much longer battery life. The result: a lightweight, rechargeable battery that can power electric cars and consumer devices. Scientists at IBM are also working to reduce the energy demands of transistors which could mean small devices like phones and e-readers won’t need batteries at all. Just like some watches are charged simply by the movement of your arm, there could be mobile phones that are charged simply by shaking them, or as IBM put its “shake and dial.”

If you live in any major city you know getting to work can be tough thanks to traffic jams, construction and inclement weather. In five years, if IBM is correct, you may have a stress-free commute. Employing mathematical models and IBM’s predictive analytics technologies, researchers will be able to analyze and combine potential scenarios that could impact commuters to give them the best routes two and from work, removing the stress of sitting in traffic and ending up late for work or that important meeting. For example the technology could tell you a better way to get to a train station, if the train is on time and if there is available parking.

Thanks to sensors embedded in phones, cars, wallets and even your tweets, in the next five years people across the globe will be able to act as citizen scientists, collecting data to give scientists a real time picture of the environment. Because of the sensors you will be able input simple observations like when the first thaw happens in your neighborhood or when the fist mosquitoes appear, which gives researchers information to save endangered species or track invasive plants or animals. Your laptop, if employed properly and connected to a network of other computers, could even detect seismic activity and help map out the aftermath of an earthquake.

Close to half of the energy consumed in a data center is for air cooling, with most of the heat being wasted because it’s dumped into the atmosphere, according to IBM. That could change in the next five years thanks to new technologies like IBM’s on-chip water-cooling systems. With the technology thermal energy from a cluster of computer processors can be recycled to give hot water to offices and houses.

In fact, a pilot project in Switzerland using the technology is expected to save up to 30 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which IBM said it’s the equivalent of an 85% reduction in the carbon footprint.