IBM revealed its roster of emerging technologies poised to have considerable impact on the world within five years. And three of them are healthcare-related.
The tech stalwart said it bases the 5 in 5 market and societal trends as well as technologies from IBM's Research labs around the world that can make these transformations possible.
1. With AI, our words will be a window into our mental health. In five years, what we say and write will be used as indicators of our mental health and physical wellbeing. Patterns in our speech and writing analyzed by new cognitive systems will provide tell-tale signs of early-stage developmental disorders, mental illness and degenerative neurological diseases that can help doctors and patients better predict, monitor and track these conditions.
2. Hyperimaging and AI will give us superhero vision. New devices using hyperimaging technology and AI will help us see broadly beyond the domain of visible light by combining multiple bands of the electromagnetic spectrum to reveal valuable insights or potential dangers that would otherwise be unknown or hidden from view. Most importantly, within five years these devices will be portable, affordable and accessible, so superhero vision can be part of our everyday experiences.
3. Macroscopes will help us understand Earth's complexity in infinite detail. Humans will use machine-learning algorithms and software to help organize the information about the physical world to bring the vast and complex data gathered by billions of devices within the range of our vision and understanding. IBM calls that a "macroscope" – but unlike the microscope to see the very small, or the telescope that can see far away, it is a system of software and algorithms to bring all of Earth's complex data together to analyze it by space and time for meaning.
4. Medical labs 'on a chip' will serve as health detectives for tracing disease at the nanoscale. In 5 years, new medical labs on a chip will serve as nanotechnology health detectives – tracing invisible clues in our bodily fluids and letting us know immediately if we have reason to see a doctor. The goal is to shrink down to a single silicon chip all of the processes necessary to analyze a disease that would normally be carried out in a full-scale biochemistry lab.
5. Smart sensors will detect environmental pollution at the speed of light. Affordable sensing technologies deployed near natural gas extraction wells, around storage facilities, and along distribution pipelines will enable the industry to pinpoint invisible leaks in real-time.