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Talking Web, Memory Aids, and Solar Phones In 5 Years

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the in-the-year-2000 dept.

IBM 109

jbrodkin writes "A talking Web, solar technology embedded in windows and cell phones, and the end of forgetting will all come in the next five years, IBM predicts in its third annual Next Five in Five list, detailing innovations that could change our lives in the next half-decade. The other predictions: We will all have digital shopping assistants and, separately, 'crystal balls' to predict our future health. If IBM is right, in five years we'll forget about keyboards and use our voices to surf the Web on solar-powered laptops. DNA profiles will predict our personal health risks, and we'll get automatic reminders to perform daily tasks, generated by digital recording and analysis of our conversations."

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End of Forgetting (5, Funny)

callinyouin (1138469) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906391)

I'm pretty pumped about that.
Totally going to happen.
Wait..
Where am I?

Re:End of Forgetting (2, Interesting)

mmu_man (107529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907181)

Are you a red fish maybe ? with 3s of memory... I use to use: sleep 3m; beep; alert "the egg is cooked" "ok" on BeOS... no need for voice recognition (use xmessage on linux)

Re:End of Forgetting (1)

Robocoastie (777066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909227)

exactly. The fact that keyboards, mice, and even GUI/desktop ways of driving our computers are still used is just sad. If even a third of the R&D costs wasted in gaming hardware development had been spent on changing user interfaces to not be dependent on keyboards and mice we'd likely have sci-fi ways of manipulating our pc's rather than these joint destroying and litterally dumb devices.

Re:End of Forgetting (1)

Vexinator (253312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910521)

Like the Neurosky gadgets?
http://www.neurosky.com/ [neurosky.com]

Re:End of Forgetting (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25911681)

There won't be an end of forgetting as long as people have the need to safely lie with, "I do not recall," or the like when testifying to Congress.

Do not want! (5, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906393)

I don't want Crystal Balls! I like mine just the way they are, thank you very much.

Re:Do not want! (3, Funny)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906399)

Wrinkly?

Re:Do not want! (-1, Offtopic)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906883)

omghowdidyouknowimgettingarestrainingorder!!1

Re:Do not want! (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907259)

Opaque.

Re:Do not want! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25907287)

Unused ...

Misleading (4, Insightful)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906417)

Remembering all the little things you forget will become easier because everyday details will be recorded, analyzed and "provided at the appropriate time and place by both portable and stationary smart appliances."

That's not "the end of forgetting" - that sounds like a more annoying version of clippy.

'talking' to the Web is leapfrogging all other interfaces, and the mobile phone is outpacing the PC

That's using voice recognition on devices with substandard interfaces. Keyboards aren't going anywhere.

Re:Misleading (5, Insightful)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906451)

That's not "the end of forgetting" - that sounds like a more annoying version of clippy.

Those of us who are forgetful and/or prone to procrastination need to be annoyed. It's important to me that the immediate cost of neglecting a task is greater than the cost of getting it done.

That's using voice recognition on devices with substandard interfaces. Keyboards aren't going anywhere.

Agreed. Only a direct neural interface has the potential to replace my keyboard. Even then, I suspect that it would only be used in times/places in which a physical keyboard and display aren't practical. I'll still be among the first to sign up for a brain implant.

Re:Misleading (4, Interesting)

paganizer (566360) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906825)

While I really like the concept of the Neural Interface, execution is going to be most likely screwed up.
For instance, if there is ANY possibility of bi-directional travel on the Neural Bus, If its closed source, I'm not interested. at all. If it is open source... well maybe.
But I can't see plugging anything that has any connection to Apple or Microsoft into my brain.

Re:Misleading (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25907527)

So that's why everyone is saying "I'm a PC"?

Re:Misleading (5, Funny)

ElAurian (133656) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907303)

"It looks like you're trying to make love! Do you need help?"

FUCK OFF CLIPPY

Re:Misleading (3, Funny)

Calydor (739835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907655)

"You have chosen to turn 'FUCK' off. Here's a picture of your grandparents having bondage sex."

Re:Misleading (1)

six025 (714064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907751)

"It looks like you're trying to make love! Do you need help?"

FUCK OFF CLIPPY

"It looks like you have accidentally left the 'Caps Lock' key turned on. Would you like me to turn it off for you?"

Re:Misleading (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907899)

"It looks like you're trying to make love! Do you need help?"

MASTER! Teach us how you got the girl!

Don't get excited... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910419)

I think Clippy may have misinterpreted the situation...

Re:Misleading (1)

Instine (963303) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907793)

But the web talking to you can be useful via most common interfaces (desktop browsers), as you can listen to a story in one tab as you crack on with other stuff. Of course I'm biased as I make the Web talk for a living (see my sig).

Re:Misleading (4, Funny)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908113)

That's not "the end of forgetting" - that sounds like a more annoying version of clippy.

You mean a wife? Yeah.

I see you're trying to watch Star Trek, would you like to:

- Tell me my ass does not look fat in these pants

- Take out the garbage

- Do the dishes

Not sure about this one (5, Interesting)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906427)

You will talk to the Web

I can't be positive, but I am pretty sure that I can type faster than a speech-recognition algorithm (currently) can convert my speech into text. I am also not sure that surfing the web using speech is such a great idea anyway. I like to think about things. Talking to my computer means (for me) that my thoughts would be less in depth (I think). Also, it might give "not safe for work" a whole new meaning, not to mention the "not safe for home". Anyway, what advantage would web browsing using speech bring us (aside from the obvious tremendous benefits to those who're impared and cannot type)? How would links work? How would firefox's awesome bar work? I am not suggesting that these problems are unsolvable. I am suggesting that it would be like trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Typing works fine. I don't need to talk to my monitor--I talk to myself too much as it is.

Re:Not sure about this one (3, Funny)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906459)

Also, it might give "not safe for work" a whole new meaning, not to mention the "not safe for home"

Obviously they don't realize why the net was born [youtube.com]

Re:Not sure about this one (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906509)

I dont know about you but (on average) I type faster than I talk anyways

Re:Not sure about this one (2, Funny)

bozojoe (102606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906567)

Well, you said "bar" (in awesome bar)

I know exactly how that works .I walk up .I make eye contract .I verbally describe the beverage I wish to purchase .I hand over too much money
*drink, wash, repeat

Re:Not sure about this one (3, Funny)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907467)

I know exactly how that works .I walk up .I make eye contract

Yes. Forming eye contracts always works wonders. The contract is usually: "I wanna get as drunk as possible". The bar tender usually agrees to this contract.

.I verbally describe the beverage I wish to purchase .I hand over too much money

Well, there is where you're getting it wrong. Never EVER verbally describe the beverage. The bar tender will probably not understand your detailed explanation of yeasts and the molecular structure anyway. Just tell them "I wanna drink to get drunk" and they will understand better. Also, don't hand over your money. Place it on the bar and watch it like a hawk. If anyone tries to steal it (including the bar tender) defend yourself. Take a leaf outa Balmer's book and throw a chair (or bar stool, whichever is handy).

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer. Do not take this as legal advice. I used to be a lawyer, but I got banned from the bar. (I can't believe I typed that)

Re:Not sure about this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25906597)

I'm with you on this one. I don't want to chatter away to surf the web either.

Re:Not sure about this one (4, Funny)

hemp (36945) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906747)

Imagine how fun an office would be with everyone saying HTTP://SLASHDOT.ORG REFRESH all day long.

Re:Not sure about this one (3, Funny)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907145)

Yeah, finally the name would have some purpose. It would be great to be redirected to HTTP:///..org

Re:Not sure about this one (2, Insightful)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907819)

It doesn't say you can't still type, does it? You can use speech to augment other input devices.

Re:Not sure about this one (1)

Olivier Galibert (774) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908449)

You're incorrect on one point at least: I have a speech recognizer handy that finishes converting your speech to text 0 to 0.4 second after you finish talking. Not available publically though.

The interesting thing with speech is that, for at least part of the population, natural language for information retrieval is spontaneous orally but not with a keyboard. And well used natural language with its abstraction and requested answer description capabilities can be way more efficient than keywords when you're looking for something.

    OG.

What I'd like to see... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25906439)

...every time we get one of these "we will have X in Y years" is the track record of whoever is making these predictions. Did they guess correctly in 50% of their past predictions? More? Less? Should I care, then?
(I realize IBM has 2 more years to go before this applies to the "next 5", but I'd bet they were making public predictions, by another name, long ago - just like everybody else)

IBM can shove their voice interactions. (2, Funny)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906461)

I like my keyboard, you insensitive clod!

Insensitive . . . ?!?!? (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907027)

Just wait until you get on a plane full of bow-heads, all *talking* to their laptops. You think cell phones in public were bad? Those were "just the fireflies before the storm" (Lou Gerstner)

Well, if this comes true, the world of the future will definitely be noisier.

In other news, IBM patents new advance ear plug technology.

I'm skeptical (5, Insightful)

Lunzo (1065904) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906465)

I doubt any of these are going to happen in the next 5 years, if at all. Here are my thoughts on each of their predictions.

1. Solar power
This sounds a lot like the 50s and 60s sci-fi where every little gadget is nuclear powered. Not going to happen. I can imagine more and more portable devices switching to solar, but I think it will be closer to 10-15 years before it becomes widespread.

2. DNA testing
Could happen, but I don't think it will be a common practice in 5 years time.

3. Voice input
Speech to text is still pretty bad. Some examples of problems it still struggles with are handling different accents, background noise. I think instead of voice input we will see a lot more touch-screen interfaces similar to the Nintendo DS and iPhone. Keyboard + mouse will still rule the desktop.

4. Robot shop assistants
Sounds far too annoying and expensive for the retailers to catch on. Also what's the point of having a robot if a human then has to go and get the item(s) suggested by it? Why not have the human make the suggestions as is currently done?

5. Memory aids
I doubt people's behavior will change so much in 5 years that everything we do will be recorded. I think we are heading that way, but I'd allow longer than 5 years for it to become mainstream. I'd also suggest that a lot of work still needs to be done with how data is stored, organized, searched etc. for this to become useful. There's no point in having everything recorded if you aren't able to find the information you need at a later date.

Re:I'm skeptical (4, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906711)

1. Solar power
This sounds a lot like the 50s and 60s sci-fi where every little gadget is nuclear powered. Not going to happen. I can imagine more and more portable devices switching to solar, but I think it will be closer to 10-15 years before it becomes widespread.

Phones need to much power to run off solar, but could be trickle charged with a solar charger. However that's not ideal for a device that sits in pockets and handbags and office buildings with little natural light.

2. DNA testing
Could happen, but I don't think it will be a common practice in 5 years time.

I hope you're right. I fear it will be misused far more than it will be used for good purpose.

3. Voice input
Speech to text is still pretty bad. Some examples of problems it still struggles with are handling different accents, background noise. I think instead of voice input we will see a lot more touch-screen interfaces similar to the Nintendo DS and iPhone. Keyboard + mouse will still rule the desktop.

URLs in particular are awful. They don't spell the way they sound. Imagine how long it would take to fill out a form with voice compared to typing if you have a decent typing rate.

4. Robot shop assistants
Sounds far too annoying and expensive for the retailers to catch on. Also what's the point of having a robot if a human then has to go and get the item(s) suggested by it? Why not have the human make the suggestions as is currently done?

What is happening is self serve. You scan the items yourself and are monitored. Sales assistants replaced with body guards. The "robots" are nothing more than scanners attached to weighing scales to help ensure you're not stealing product.

5. Memory aids
I doubt people's behavior will change so much in 5 years that everything we do will be recorded. I think we are heading that way, but I'd allow longer than 5 years for it to become mainstream. I'd also suggest that a lot of work still needs to be done with how data is stored, organized, searched etc. for this to become useful. There's no point in having everything recorded if you aren't able to find the information you need at a later date.

The problem isn't recording. (A voice recorder would do that just fine for a lot of tasks). It's recall and providing the information at the appropriate time. Ignoring the privacy implications of having every action recorded this technology is going to require AI to be useful.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

giarcgood (857371) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907267)

However that's not ideal for a device that sits in pockets and handbags and office buildings with little natural light.

Well why don't they just build artificial light panels. Just like solar but charged by light bulbs.

If only we could capture all the artificial light with these panels and use that energy to power the artificial lights. If this isn't a perpetual energy machine, I don't know what is.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910857)

You have artificial lights in your pocket or handbag?

My phone only sees the light of day when I'm actually using it, which might be an average of 10 minutes a day.

Re:I'm skeptical (4, Funny)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906905)

3. Voice input
Speech to text is still pretty bad. Some examples of problems it still struggles with are handling different accents, background noise.

Ack. Imagine trying to tell a computer to go to Slashdot [slashdot.org] .
I'd rather just double the killer delete select all...

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

Olivier Galibert (774) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908491)

3. Voice input
Speech to text is still pretty bad. Some examples of problems it still struggles with are handling different accents, background noise.

Ack. Imagine trying to tell a computer to go to Slashdot [slashdot.org] .
I'd rather just double the killer delete select all...

If you have to say anything more than "go to slashdot", your system sucks. If you have to say an url, your system sucks. Thinking voice control means dictation is narrow minded at best.

    OG.

Re:I'm skeptical (2, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906931)

1. Solar power: Noone wants to carry around their mobile devices out in the open oriented to catch the most Sun. Solar panels on houses and cars I can understand, but they will never be anything more than a marketing gimmick on mobile devices.

3. Voice input: My first exposure to this was a demo from IBM in the mid 1990's. PCs have increased in power a lot since then and the quality of voice recognition has hardly changed, so I think it's going to take a major new discovery to make significant advances in the next five years.

4. Robot Shop Assistants: Marketing gimmick, might appear in a few sushi restaurants, but when people go shopping in brick and mortar stores, they want to deal with people not machines, otherwise they'd just do their shopping online.

5. Memory aids: Many people still find an old fashioned paper diary more usable than a PDA, there are a lot more advances needed in UI and AI technology before we will see devices like those described that are actually useful to the common man, as opposed to a tech geek who is willing to put up with the system's quirks, spend many man-months customizing it for their needs, and learn to use it properly.

And the number one reason why none of this is going to see light within the next five years is that R&D funding is already being slashed, and it is going to get a lot worse before it starts getting better again.

And a pony (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907019)

The robotic assistants will be able to offer color-coordination and body-type advice at least. And then if you're female you'll find pictures of you all over the internet.

Robotic Assistants (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907963)

And then if you're female you'll find pictures of you all over the internet.

You've made me use up an hour "doing research" on the net, you inconsiderate clod!

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

Olivier Galibert (774) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908513)

3. Voice input: My first exposure to this was a demo from IBM in the mid 1990's. PCs have increased in power a lot since then and the quality of voice recognition has hardly changed, so I think it's going to take a major new discovery to make significant advances in the next five years.

[Citation needed]

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25911931)

[Citation needed]

I never would have guessed it from the user ID, but you must be new here.

It seems you're right though, the Wikipedia page for IBM ViaVoice [wikipedia.org] needs citations, and the page for its Windows 3.1 and OS/2 predecessor VoiceType, which is the one I saw demonstrated, has not even been created yet.

I'm optimistic! (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908783)

1. Solar power: Noone wants to carry around their mobile devices out in the open oriented to catch the most Sun. Solar panels on houses and cars I can understand, but they will never be anything more than a marketing gimmick on mobile devices.

Nah. Hats with really big brims, often worn at an angle when sitting outside, come back into fashion. The thin power cords are sewn into the chin straps. Some models contain a microphone in the bolo slider of the chin strap, for those few who prefer an audible pickup to the necklace subvocalizers. Styles tend to sort out by latitude, with narrow brimmed hats like baseball caps with oversized bills being favored in equatorial desert climes, while broad sombreros are more common closer to the poles, and in regions that are frequently cloudy.

Faux turtleneck collars, feather boas, ascot ties, elizabethan collars, and similar neckwear become common fashion accessories that also serve wiring harness or cable control functions.

I'm optimistic! (2) (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909143)

3. Voice input: My first exposure to this was a demo from IBM in the mid 1990's. PCs have increased in power a lot since then and the quality of voice recognition has hardly changed, so I think it's going to take a major new discovery to make significant advances in the next five years.

I agree, wrt things like composing email, or data entry to a spreadsheet. But...

A choke collar lying flat against the throat, with appropriate sensors on the underside, a middle layer of computer chips, and an outer layer of bling (possibly doubling as radiators for the heat sink) picks up the user's subvocalized commands. The command set is a very distinct spatial jargon for controlling a mouse pointer: "Computer: main menu second column, click... third item, click... bottom item, click... over right twenty-five percent down 40 percent, rightclick... item one." The commands are subvocalized; the computer ignores anything that is actually spoken, so the user appears to be silently talking to himself. A roomful of busy office workers would be very quiet.

This is done while looking at an unrolled scroll of digital display paper which is the visual part of the interface. When not in use the display is stored in a small brassy tubular scabbard attached to a red shoulder sash, that in turn is held in place by one of the epaulettes (the other epaulette holds the gloves with the embedded stress sensor nets that are used to manipulate the virtual keyboard).

Audio is through earbuds that attach to the choke collar computer. Power is from the solar hat.

Picture a thousand people waiting on the platform for the commuter train, all quiet, some bopping to earbud music; others holding their scrolls like they were issuing Some Important Proclamation, reading the news or watching a video, a few with lips moving silently while they concentrated on some internet surfing activity.

Five years is enough time to get from where we are to that place. Except maybe for the digitizing gloves. We'll probably all be using fold up keyboards, since the gloves probably won't be ready for ten years.

I'm optimistic! (3) (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909427)

4. Robot Shop Assistants: Marketing gimmick, might appear in a few sushi restaurants, but when people go shopping in brick and mortar stores, they want to deal with people not machines, otherwise they'd just do their shopping online.

An android shopping assistant doesn't make much sense to me. But...

Smart shopping carts that use Bluetooth to interface with your PDA or choke collar computer. You can download your shopping list to them, and they can display a map of the aisles with an optimal route from item to item. They can also display comparative shopping information on all the brands of widgets, and of course all the in-store special sales. Also, a running total of the cost of your purchases, adjusted for the coupons you've sent through its scanner, the 5% discount you get for being recognized as a "Loyal Customer", and the 3% additional discount you get for having shopped at this store two other times in the last seven days, etc, etc.

Stop at one of the sampler stations and try the taste of the highlighted cheese of the day... and the cart receives the signal that you have done so and that you now qualify for the Special of the Day price on the Imported Brie. Notice that the pork loin roasts are at a good price and ask the cart whether it knows of any recipes that would get the meat from refrigerator to table in under an hour... and what spices and whatnot are recommended?

All done with the grocery list? Ask the cart if anyone on your social network "friends" list is currently in the mall. The cart says that SuzyQ is... have the cart text message her cart: Wanna meet at the espresso bar?

When done with the shopping, roll the cart directly to the door, bypassing the check-out counters, and swipe your credit card through the cart's reader to pay your bill.

There are no unsolved technical problems here. This will happen as soon as it becomes cost effective for stores to implement this kind of thing. Which is very likely to start happening in the next five years.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

RJFerret (1279530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907187)

2. DNA testing
Could happen, but I don't think it will be a common practice in 5 years time.

As seen on Oprah of all places, already down to $400... 23 and me [23andme.com]

Her doctor was relieved to find out he can be less concerned about prostrate exams.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907725)

I have given myself a short term memory this year.
I wrote a piece of software which turns my tablet into an instant notepad with an innovative graffiti wall showing all recent notes.

Its very relaxing and is allowing me to expand my thoughts without ever losing the information I write.

For years I have taken notes and scraps of paper and lost every single one of them at the turn of a page.

now I keep them and I'm going to be doing more with them as development time becomes available.

see http://liqbase.net/ [liqbase.net] or my journal http://slashdot.org/~LiquidCoooled/journal/216501 [slashdot.org] for more information.

why the obsession with speech recognition? (5, Insightful)

rpax9000 (916267) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906477)

seriously, every list of things that we can expect to see "real soon now" involves speech recognition.

and all i can say is... why?

who wants to work in an office full of cubes of people talking to their computers?

do you really want to read that confidential memo out loud?

besides, i can't imagine how awful it would be if everyone started speaking their memos and blog posts and comments &c. you think e-mail looks sloppy now... just wait until folks start yakking at their computers and pressing (or, i guess, saying?) "send".

sheesh. the last thing i want to do is "talk" to the web.

Re:why the obsession with speech recognition? (4, Insightful)

johndmartiniii (1213700) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906789)

Not to mention that we could then say goodbye to the last bastion of literacy: the text based internet.

If we no longer have to read the information from the internet (which is becoming increasingly visual anyway) then only very few will ever read anything at all. People are already not buying books.

That said, I am going to go listen to the robot overlord read /. to me.

Re:why the obsession with speech recognition? (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907815)

Those of us who type and are slowly destroying their wrists and arms welcome the opportunity to stop typing while still getting the job done.

To the commenter above me: it's been shown that the fastest way to get pure text into a computer is to speak it. The fastest way to get text out is to read it. TTS tech has its place, but the internet isn't going to start being exclusively narrated by our robot overlord any time soon.

Re:why the obsession with speech recognition? (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909119)

My moth... someone I know uses the following words in a loop when talking: I mean, you know, like, whatever, just sayin'... and a few others with only a few bits of information immersed in between. We have a game when she calls, keeping tabs on which ones she uses and placing bets beforehand... It would be fun to see a speech to write output.

Re:why the obsession with speech recognition? (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909801)

Subvocalization technology can be developed that would use throat mikes to pick up on silent whispers.

Even so, I agree that data entry will mostly be through the fingers. In general, keyboards will be the fastest and most accurate way of moving information from brain to silicon for quite a while. Pathologists and other special cases are developing good speech recognition for use in narrow, highly specialised situations, but this is not going to get into the mainstream any time soon.

However, subvocalized computer control is easy, since the vocabulary is so limited. An "oral mouse" could be done with perhaps a dozen words, and the words could be chosen so that each was distinct. "Up", "down", "right" and "left" are very distinctive. Done in unvoiced whispers, this will not disturb the office and will provide at least as much privacy as current practices.

This limited approach would boost a lot of people's productivity: to be able to control a mouse pointer without taking one's hands off the keyboard would be great thing indeed. It appears that this is within reach of today's technology. I really don't see why no one has come out with a hands-off mouse as yet.

Re:why the obsession with speech recognition? (1)

winwar (114053) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910787)

"However, subvocalized computer control is easy, since the vocabulary is so limited. An "oral mouse" could be done with perhaps a dozen words, and the words could be chosen so that each was distinct. "Up", "down", "right" and "left" are very distinctive."

And how do you tell the mouse how far to move?

Words that are distinctive still might be confused. I have that happen all the time at work on a voice system. If the systems sucks in my environment, it will suck everywhere. The only benefit of a voice system is hands free. And the value of that varies greatly. It probably doesn't improve my productivity but certainly helped the vendors and consultants that sold it.....

To summarize, voice recognition sucks. If you don't want people to take their hands off of the keyboard, there are these things called "shortcuts".

Mouses exist because they are good enough.

More like 15 years (4, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906483)

Though most of these advances are tantalizingly close to realization, 5 years is still pretty ambitious.

In the past 15 years, speech recognition has certainly not gotten to the point where you can navigate hands-free except for rudimentary commands like ALT-LEFT or PAGEDOWN. You still need to train speech recognition parsers to your pronunciation, and they still get it wrong some of the time. Like everyone else, I would love for this technology to be perfected but I'm not holding my breath (so to speak). Maybe the author was taking the Iron Man movie a bit too seriously.

As for "perfect memory" I think in fact the opposite has occurred (see the recent Slashdot article [slashdot.org] on improving one's memory). People's attention spans and short term memory are deteriorating because of the information blitz. Although, the damage from passive web surfing is mediated by active participation in forums etc. Carrying around a PDA has been a mixed blessing; you get to the point where you don't bother to memorize anything because it's all in your device. That's OK as far as it goes, but you still need to exercise your memory or risk letting it decline, and PDAs do nothing to alleviate this problem.

Paint-on solar power--that's a great technology that has barely made it out of the lab. If it's implemented in the next 5 years, wonderful, but somehow it seems like a major infrastructure shift is needed to truly take advantage. I'd love to see every new house and commercial building outfitted with solar power, but it's not happening today even in fast-growing and sunny places like southern Arizona so this paint-on thing is probably even farther off. But, who knows what the next five years will bring. Obama may try to push through a mandate and then suddenly we'll see solar everywhere.

Realistically, in five years I would expect to see much smarter phones, like the iPhone 4.0 and gPhone 3.0 running on various networks including wi-fi and wimax as well as traditional cellular grids. Memory will be bigger and cheaper, and these gadgets will essentially be as smart as a present-day laptop. Laptops will be slimmer and smarter, too, and with longer lasting power supplies. Probably cars will be slightly smarter, with built-in GPS screens a common option (Toyota will probably be the first to make GPS a standard feature in all models) and traffic jam avoidance systems increasingly common. Eventually we'll doubtless have buried beacons in the roads that will alert motorists with properly equipped cars to impending collisions or congestion. But this kind of infrastructure will take years if not decades to install.

Socially we'll see more people looking for community online while ignoring their physical neighbors. This will be disruptive to physical neighborhoods as the world becomes increasingly virtual and distances are lessened.

Re:More like 15 years (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907059)

? Voice navigation? Dragon Dictate then Naturally Speaking has been around for *years* and if you watch someone who's taken the time to train it use it, it's unbelievably good. I've seen partners in legal firms talk at full tilt, completely naturally, and have it pick it up with 100% accuracy. The later versions can even be fed, via OCR, pages and pages of your firms' documentation, which they will then analyse to pickup on company jargon, terminology, etc.
It's a solved problem, and has been for years. You just need to put in some time to train it.

IBM will move its HQ to India. (5, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906505)

I predict that in 5 years, IBM will finish moving all of its datacenter support to India, will exit the CPU business in the face of withering competition from Intel, and sell its mainframe business from some yet to be identified Chinese company.

Does anyone type to the web now? (4, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906529)

Does anyone type to the web now? It seems to me most people use this thing called a mouse. Replacing a keyboard with voice recognition sucks. Replacing a mouse with voice recognition... let's just say I'm pretty sure that's one of the punishments featured in one of the lower circles of hell.

Re:Does anyone type to the web now? (4, Funny)

stfvon007 (632997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907111)

Voice recognition mouse in action:

left one pixel!
left one pixel!
left one pixel!
left one pixel!
left one pixel!
left one pixel!
down one pixel!
down one pixel!
down one pixel!
down one pixel!
oops too far
up one pixel!
CLICK!

Re:Does anyone type to the web now? (2, Informative)

reckless_waltz (1417453) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907855)

Don't take this too literally. Its about replacing mouse actions such as clicking on "back" button or "reload" button with voice commands such as "back","reload" etc..

Re:Does anyone type to the web now? (1)

svank (1301529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909319)

Nah. This would be more efficient:

"Computer, measure --distance --horizontal --from-mouse --button Post | mouse --move --horizontal --in-pixels

Computer, measure --distance --vertical --from-mouse --button Post | mouse --move --vertical --in-pixels

Computer, mouse --left-click"

Re:Does anyone type to the web now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25912303)

That's rather interesting. Imagine calling out commands:

Down! *wait for cursor to align horizontally*
Left! *wait for cursor to reach target*
Click!

Not bad, I'd have both hands free to uh, do other things.

Future falshback. (2, Funny)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906541)

"DNA profiles will predict our personal health risks..."

You will suffer the risk of constant blows to the head from your annoying personality. Have a nice day.

"...and we'll get automatic reminders to perform daily tasks, generated by digital recording and analysis of our conversations."

We have that already. I call mine, Mom!

They're doin' it again (3, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906587)

I hate when they do this stuff. People tend to make predictions from the wrong angle. Half of the things they say have everything to do with innovation and nothing to do with adoption. Unfortunately, as these are all technological maturities, they only truly exist as beneficial when they acquire a thershhold-degree of ubiquity.

If something is completely unused today, I promise that it won't be anywhere near widely adopted in five years.

Re:They're doin' it again (3, Interesting)

akadruid (606405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908345)

5 years? Takeup of these things is accelerating.

The very first MP3 player (Eiger Labs MPMan F10) didn't go on sale until June 98, and 3rd Generation iPod was out by April 03. Admittedly it was a couple more years until they reached the 10s of millions of sales per quarter, depends on your definition of 'widely adopted'.

DVD players didn't go on sale until 96, and they were pretty dominant by about '01

Wireless networking was pretty much non-existent before 802.11b in October 99, but extremely popular 5 years later.

5 years is a long time these days.

Online TV-catchup (iplayer, hulu etc) was essentially non-existent 2 years ago - want to bet it will be 3 more years before it's widely adopted? iPlayer's already a sizeable % of all internet traffic in the UK.

Re:They're doin' it again (1)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910117)

See, but that's my point. The first MP3 player was in 1996, but the first MP3 was way before. My friend turned me on to MP3 compression years before. And wireless networking existing long before 802.11b, just not at the consumer level, and not at the wi-fi level. How long did it take from IR wireless networking until bluetooth wireless networking? Almost 20 years?!

And those things can function without wide-spread adoption. Even DVD players, can start off small, like blu-ray has, with movies released for both.

Solar panels? Yeah, there will be more solar with each passing year, no doubt. But to have them built into window-panes means that window manufacturers need to actually do it. That means their manufacturing processes and equipment need to change. That means their 5 million dollar machine needs to become obsolete. Oh, and local building laws need to be adjusted to make it legal for such things to be used in terms of fire code and such. You're talking about weathering storms, arsen, safety for occupants, safety for installers. You want it in the asphalt and sidewalks? When was the last time your city tore up your street and replaced ALL of the sidewalks in an area?

People have been saying for years that there are great technologies that should be embedded into highways. That's great. The next time we build a highway, or tear up an existing one, maybe it'll be included. The 401, about 1km away from me, has the largest stretch of highway in the world about 5km away from me. It's some 26 lanes wide for about 5km. And it's bumper-to-bumper six hours every day. No, it can't be torn up.

Talking web? You want web browsers to change, web sites to change, and you want web visitors to change? And you want people to use voice commands, which are no where near as discrete as mouse clicks. People have been asking for voice commands forever. My car has voice commands. So I can push a button on the radio and instantly be listening to my favourite radio station, or I can spin a knob and within one second be listening to any radio station. Or, I can push a button on teh steering wheel, any existing music is muted, and wait for "state voice command", I say "tune 104.5 fm", and wait for "tuning, 104.5 fm", then wait long enough to allow me to cancel the action, then be listening to the radio station. The first method had my hand off of the wheel for under one second. The second had my hand off the wheel for three seconds and my eyes off of the road for two seconds. The third had my attention off of driving for about ten seconds. It's not that voice commands aren't ever better, it's that if I want to flip between six stations to find something good on, it'll take a full minute, instead of five seconds.

So, where's IBM talk of flying cars? Not even robotic cars?

And they think that retail stores will have 30'000 in kiosks and touchscreens in the dressing rooms. Which stores? Not the small ones. Not the ones with personal attention. Giant stores that don't actually help you with anything. Those ones. So you think that store employees with sit around taking commands from kiosks? If you think they slack off now, just wait.

Each of these things requires adoption rates that need to skyrocket before the technology is usable at all. You can't have kiosks in retail stores until you have consumers who know how to use them, and store owners who know how to use them, and sales persons who know how to sell them. You need a business model that supports maintaining them in your store too. And you need software. One store can't have kiosks everywhere. Maybe one mall can though. Mall owners don't care about computer kiosks, they care about their customers -- and mall owner customers aren't consumers -- it's the store owners, and their rent. That's not improved by kiosks, so they won't listen.

Everything on this list is like that.

It's a load of crap. (2, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906591)

I give less credibility to these predictions than I do to Nostradamus, and that means almost none.

We already have some of these things (the talking web for example... even though it's abysmally expensive to do it right), and others of them we probably don't even want.

For example: solar cells on sidewalks will not become commond anytime soon. Why? Not because of solar cell efficiency, which has (finally) been increasing significantly. No, the problems there are interconnection and durability! Interconnection is problematic and expensive, and the thin-film cells are nowhere near durable enough for this kind of application... unless you embedded them in epoxy or something, which is a whole different can of worms.

Solar cells will not be embedded in cell phones! Why? Because even though solar cell efficiency is increasing, cell phones use a LOT of power (which is why they have lithium cells), and they keep getting smaller and smaller, with less room for solar cells. Further, nobody wants to clip their cell phone to their hat so that it absorbs enough sun.

I could go on, but I think I have made my point. IBM should be ashamed of this set of predictions. It was poorly thought out.

Hmmmmm (4, Interesting)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906919)

Quote
For example: solar cells on sidewalks will not become commond anytime soon. /Quote

Strange this. Just this week, a Solar powered traffic sign was installed on the pavement(uk speak for sidewalk) right outside my house.
Here and in France (from my observations earlier this week) large number of roadside and even railway side equipment are spouting solar panels these days.

It is a pity that the large scale panels needed for domestic use are so expensive.

Re:Hmmmmm (2, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906995)

Nanosolar is very close to getting their solarply product down to $1/Kw, which means for your average household needs your one-time outlay is around $4,000USD for the panels + inverter, wiring etc. For a 25+ year warranty, that's not bad. Only problem is that their capacity is sold out for the next year =(

Re:Hmmmmm (1)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907877)

Yes I've seen these too, control boxes for various road side things with a solar panel ontop.

What I think he meant though was using solar panels as the actual pavement... yeah like people walking over them!

Re:Hmmmmm (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908319)

All the parking meters in my UK town have solar panels on the top. Even the tourist information computer stations have them (not that anyone uses them). A perfect solution for powering LCDs.

Re:Hmmmmm (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909833)

I've noticed that most of the navigation lights on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers around Portland are now running from solar panels. And of course the use of solar power in landscaping and walkway lighting is now commonplace.

Yes, but... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910761)

We have solar traffic lights in my area too. But those are panels in the air, not solar cells IN asphalt, as the article predicted. That was what I was referring to.

No it isn't (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907857)

In addition to the other post about this, let me add that utility companies in the UK have been putting solar panels on their telemetering boxes for some time. There is one along a path I use, and obviously while somebody periodically cleans the cells, I've seen no other signs of maintenance.

However, I agree about cell phones. Most people do not bring them out in sunshine, where they don't work very well, and they don't like heat anyway.

Interesting (to me anyway) the talking web was forecast in the 1960s in a book, published in the UK, called "Metatopia". I think it sold hardly any copies and I only know about it because the author lived in our road. Metatopia was a kind of rebuff to Brave New World, and it proposed a future that most North Americans would absolutely hate - a combination of socialism and libertarianism (hence the "meta" - Greek for "in the middle) but his talking Internet had e-commerce, a kind of Wikipedia, and the delivery of audio content free on demand.

Yes, it is. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910779)

The article specifically described solar cells being implanted IN the "asphalt" of sidewalks. Not in separate panels attached to poles.

We have solar traffic lights, etc. in my area too. But that was not the topic of discussion.

Google would love the second one (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906615)

I can see google researching text-to-speech technology so they can then remotely turn on mobile phones and listen in on everyone.

If they manage to work out the current difficulties, they'll even say its so they can remind people to do stuff.

Solar phones? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906671)

Solar tech? Seriously? For something that sits in my pocket??? And women tend to keep in handbags. Oh I can imagine it now....a conversation with my wife when I get home will begin with "Sorry honey, I forgot to put my mobile on the window sill at work and it ran out of charge. Actually our area is moving in a couple of years and there won't be as much natural light so even that won't be an option.

I had to check the date to make sure it wasn't April fools.

Re:Solar phones? (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909877)

The New Ten by Six From Stetson!
10 watts at 6 volts, from the hatters who made your great granddaddy's ten gallon hat!

Today voice input fails.....5 yrs later not likely (1)

holywarrior21c (933929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906695)

not likely so [youtube.com]
By the way it looks like human civilization will have dark age for another half of a millennia until this thing gets fixed.

Re:Today voice input fails.....5 yrs later not lik (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906967)

That was absolutely magical.

But you do have to consider that speech-to-text's strength is transcription, not punctuation. For an engine that's probably had next to no training on the user's voice, it did at least a half-decent job getting the correct word. Given that most perl scripters are too busy fighting over vi and emacs, it's probably OK for the Vista team to ignore this one masochist.

wow gold (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:wow gold (1)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907037)

thank you, sir, for giving us a good reason why the web should NOT talk to us.

If the internet talks to me... (2, Funny)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906833)

That'll make google ads so much more fun. And just think about when they do a revival of the Vagina Monologues. Fun times ahead!

[+5 sarcasm]

STDs? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25906957)

Memory AIDS? I better start wearing my brain condom

Flying cars owned by private citizens (2, Funny)

KozmoKramer (1117173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907047)

Flying cars owned by private citizens will soon be available as well.....

Who is this targeted at? (1)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907057)

We will all have digital shopping assistants and, separately, 'crystal balls' to predict our future health. If IBM is right, in five years we'll forget about keyboards and use our voices to surf the Web on solar-powered laptops

I keep reading that word, "we". Who is we?

I'm all about forgetting! (0, Redundant)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907067)

Who wants to remember this past year! Across the board, shit-show of the century!

Next five in five my #$% (5, Funny)

pseudonomous (1389971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907099)

Where's the year of the linux desktop?

Re:Next five in five my #$% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25908185)

> Where's the year of the linux desktop?

Still in hiding. It'll only come out when it has great "must have" desktop apps.

Re:Next five in five my #$% (1)

spartacus_prime (861925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909519)

10 if year = x
20 then yearlinux = x+1
30 repeat

Re:Next five in five my #$% (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909889)

Where's the year of the linux desktop?

That is so last year.

Get with the program! Your choice: Ubuntu, or Kubuntu.

Digital Assistants in shops! Cool... (2, Funny)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907629)

No need to go shopping with the Mrs any more! Woo hoo!

Here let me give you head start on the code:
onShopperTalk(text) {
      if (text == "Does my bum look big in this?") {
              output("No, it looks fine");
              sleep(2000);
              output("What do you mean I wasn't looking? - of course I was");
      }
}

investor bait (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25907683)

oh well at least it sounds more promising than whatever this was supposed to achieve:
http://www.research.ibm.com/BurrPuzzles/ [ibm.com]

Some possible drawbacks (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908077)

We will talk to the web

Considering the contents of most forums, this advancement will be a huge step forward in making flamewars move on to a whole new level. "NO U" indeed.

DNA profiles will predict our personal health risks

Anyone else looking forward to being denied a job or insurance today because your DNA profile shows a 40% lung cancer profile 20 years in your future?

Linux (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908287)

We will have Linux on the desktop for everyone in five years. Everybody knows that.

using your voice - wtf? (1)

AlpinePascia (1394887) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908861)

Someday soon you will surf the Internet using just your voice, a development that will make the Web more widely accessible worldwide, particularly for those who cannot read or write.

We'd better teach them to read and write. Writing is a highly efficient way of presenting information, several times faster than oral speech in terms of perception. Although today's input methods are a bit clumsy. Instead of a keyboard one could think of some sensor that you put on wrist to scan some subtle movements of fingers. I mean, in sci-fi future there's a lot to be done, but leave writing alone.

Why voice powered laptops are out (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909449)

You having to say out loud "Google, find me a woman screwing a donkey".

'Nuff said.

A reputation for accuracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25911303)

"I think there is a world market for about five computers."

IBM: Known for great predictions.

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