For five years now, IBM has been making a yearly Five in Five set of predictions about technology’s future. Their vision of the year 2015 isn’t too hard to believe, considering earlier innovations we now take for granted.
So what does IBM see in their crystal ball? How about batteries that run on air? That’s right. IBM is predicting new batteries that will take oxygen from the air and turn it into power. Smaller devices might be charged with kinetic or static electricity. You know, the rub-a-balloon-across-the-hair-on-your-head concept.
IBM sees holograms in our future
IBM sees a variant of Star Trek’s ‘Beam me up Scotty’ as a viable way of communicating with friends and co-workers. Holographic images that you can interact with aren’t so far removed from the 3-D television you are hoping to find under your Christmas tree. Wouldn’t that be fun!
On a more practical note – let’s look at a 21st century concern – energy consumption. A data center uses 50 percent of its energy just keeping its computers cool. IBM asks: Why not take the heat that is being removed and put it to use? The company has already been working on that idea. In 2008, in conjunction with the Fraunhofer Institute in Berlin, IBM announced a technique to cool 3-D chip stacks with water.
Continuing in that direction, IBM and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) are developing Aquasar, a first-of-a-kind, water-cooled supercomputer. Bruno Michel, manager advanced thermal packaging at IBM Research – Zurich said:
Water as a coolant has the ability to capture heat about 4,000 times more efficiently than air, and its heat-transporting properties are also far superior.
IBM claims that chip-level cooling with a water temperature of approximately 60 degrees C is sufficient to keep the chip at operating temperatures well below the maximally allowed 85 degrees C.
Don Campbell, Chief Technology Officer for Business Analytics at IBM explains that it is a "micro approach to passing water across the chip, pulling heat out of the chip and instead of getting rid of it, capturing, extracting and repurposing it."
The energy could power the office coffee maker, or in the Zurich case, heat their buildings. A further prediction on the list of 5-in-5, is that individuals could become part of a network providing information to help researchers.
For example as they explain in the above video, laptops connected to a network could map the aftermath of an earthquake. You might opt to become more personally involved. As you move about, you could be collecting data for scientists via sensors in your phone or in your car.
The sensors would pick up and transmit information about your environment: temperature, mosquito hatchings, water availability.
GPS would be involved as an informational device, which leads to this year’s final prediction that resembles a George Jetson scenario.
Your traffic patterns could be analyzed, then personalized, such as where there is an open parking space, or how to circumvent a road obstruction. Adaptive traffic systems could make your commute less of a headache. Like Nostradamus, IBM may, or may not, have hit the nail on the head. Make a note on your calendar to check back in five years so you can confirm the quality of their foresight.