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Talking Web, Memory Aids, and Solar Phones In 5 Years 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-year-2000 dept.
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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Talking Web, Memory Aids, and Solar Phones In 5 Years

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  • by callinyouin (1138469) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:08AM (#25906391)
    I'm pretty pumped about that.
    Totally going to happen.
    Wait..
    Where am I?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mmu_man (107529)
      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)
    • 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.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      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.

  • by plover (150551) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:08AM (#25906393) Homepage Journal
    I don't want Crystal Balls! I like mine just the way they are, thank you very much.
  • Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cjfs (1253208) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:15AM (#25906417) Homepage Journal

    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bottlemaster (449635) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:22AM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by paganizer (566360) <thegrove1&hotmail,com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:13AM (#25906825) Homepage Journal

        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: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by ElAurian (133656) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @05:28AM (#25907303) Homepage

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

      FUCK OFF CLIPPY

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Calydor (739835)
        "You have chosen to turn 'FUCK' off. Here's a picture of your grandparents having bondage sex."
      • by six025 (714064)

        "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?"

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

        MASTER! Teach us how you got the girl!

    • by Instine (963303)
      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).
    • by Gerafix (1028986) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:12AM (#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

  • by Psychotria (953670) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:19AM (#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.

    • by cjfs (1253208) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:24AM (#25906459) Homepage Journal

      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]

    • I dont know about you but (on average) I type faster than I talk anyways
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bozojoe (102606)

      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

      • by Psychotria (953670) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:18AM (#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)

    • by hemp (36945) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:52AM (#25906747) Homepage Journal

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by icebraining (1313345)

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mgblst (80109)

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

    • 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'

    • I'd tend to agree with you, but it would be (IMHO) just a stepping stone to a fully interactive personal assistant who answers your questions and performs your tasks... ala the butler in Snow Crash.

      Now THAT I cannot wait for!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:21AM (#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)

  • by east coast (590680) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:25AM (#25906461)
    I like my keyboard, you insensitive clod!
  • I'm skeptical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunzo (1065904) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:25AM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by syousef (465911) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:44AM (#25906711) Journal

      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.

      • by giarcgood (857371)
        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.
        • by syousef (465911)

          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.

    • by Cow Jones (615566) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:34AM (#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...

      • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jrumney (197329)

      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 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.
        • 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!

      • 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]

        • by jrumney (197329)

          [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.

          • 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.

            Ah, I see. You judge the state of speech recognition by the state of dictation products. That's a little... limited, you know?

                OG.

      • 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 re

      • 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 twe

      • 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 th

    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      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.

    • 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

  • by rpax9000 (916267) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:28AM (#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.

    • by johndmartiniii (1213700) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:03AM (#25906789) Homepage
      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.
    • 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.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      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.
    • 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

      • by winwar (114053)

        "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

  • More like 15 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yog (19073) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:30AM (#25906483) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by RMH101 (636144)
      ? 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.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowskyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:36AM (#25906505) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:44AM (#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.

    • by stfvon007 (632997) <enigmar007@NOsPaM.yahoo.com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @04:35AM (#25907111) Journal

      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: (Score:2, Informative)

        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..
      • by svank (1301529)
        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"
  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:49AM (#25906541) Journal

    "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!

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:06AM (#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.

    • by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@thedrBO ... o.uk minus berry> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:06AM (#25908345) Homepage

      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.

      • 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 f

        • by akadruid (606405)

          I agree; these predictions are not worth the pixels. They jump from current trends straight to wish fulfillment.

          The kiosk thing is the closest to happening. These new self service checkouts are the start. The Tescos in Eastcheap put in 3 of them a couple of years back; within a few months they'd ripped out half the manned checkouts to get another 12 or so in. People prefer to have a computer serve them, to the point where they will accept doing a little more work themselves; and the stores on to a winne

  • It's a load of crap. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:07AM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:39AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796)

        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 =(

      • by drspliff (652992)

        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!

      • by Inda (580031)
        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.
      • 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.

      • 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.
    • 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

      • 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.
  • 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 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.

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

  • 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.
    • by Firehed (942385)

      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.

  • 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? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Memory AIDS? I better start wearing my brain condom

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

  • Who wants to remember this past year! Across the board, shit-show of the century!
  • by pseudonomous (1389971) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @04:32AM (#25907099)
    Where's the year of the linux desktop?
    • Where's the year of the linux desktop?

      That is so last year.

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

  • by PinkyDead (862370) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:01AM (#25907629) Journal

    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 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

  • 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?

  • by tsa (15680)

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

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

    'Nuff said.

  • It detects the persons identity, your location and based off there attitude toward you provides a rating for that person and shares a part of it with your location....part of my project. looking for people soon..
  • I *want* memory aids. I want them with a passion. But the article is blowing smoke and calling it a fireplace. There's nothing there.

    Not to say that memory aids couldn't exist. We could have them right now. All I want is a device where I can press a button and create alarms and reminders via voice. The word domain is small, and it doesn't have to be realtime (a processing time of 5-15 seconds is just fine). Existing mobile devices like phones already have enough processing power for this task, but I still h

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