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IBM thinks we could have superhero vision by 2022

Chillicious Bureau

By 2022, we could have medical labs built on a computer chip, humans with superhero vision and smart sensors that can detect pollution, according to IBM Research.

Making the invisible world visible is the theme of the industrial giant’s “5 in 5’’, its annual list of predictions about five technologies that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

IBM Research thinks that by 2022, innovations in artficial intelligence and nanotechnlogy could enable us to dramatically improve farming, enhance energy efficiency, spot harmful pollution before it’s too late, and prevent premature cognitive decline.

Here are five areas in which the company predicts there will be massive technological innovation over the next five years.

1. Early warning

IBM’s first prediction is that what we say and write will indicate our mental health and physical wellbeing. It says that new cognitive systems will analyse and provide tell-tale signs of developmental disorders, mental illness and degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, PTSD or even neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism and ADHD.

“What were once invisible signs will become clear signals of patients’ likelihood of entering a certain mental state,” it says.

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2.Superhero vision

IBM’s second prediction is that new portable and affordable imaging devices wil use hyperimaging technology and AI to 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.

In other words, superhero vision will be a reality. IBM says these devices could help make road and traffic conditions clearer for drivers and self-driving cars. 

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3. Building a macroscope

IBM says that with Internet of Things, new sources of data are pouring in from millions of connected objects – from refrigerators, light bulbs and your heart rate monitor to remote sensors such as drones, cameras, satellites and telescope arrays.

According to IBM, “macroscope” technology will transform many industries while revealing new insights about some of the most fundamental problems we face, such as the availability of food, water and energy.

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4. Chip doctors

Prevention is better than cure. IBM says new, handheld 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. It says this will be particularly useful for diseases which are hard to detect such as cancer or Parkinson’s.

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5. Predicting pollution

As world leaders recognise climate change as the biggest threat to our existence, new 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. It will be particularly help identify those pollutants are invisible to the human eye, until their effects make them impossible to ignore. 

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If you’re wondering about IBM’s track record with these predictions, take a look at what they predicted for 2018 .