'Soon, phones can give a feel of items you want to buy online'

'Soon, phones can give a feel of items you want to buy online' New Delhi: In about five years, you may be able to feel the touch of a Banarasi or a Kanjeevaram sari through your smartphone screen before buying it online, claims IBM.

This year the technology giant's Five in Five list talks about five such innovations that "have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years," IBM said.

The 2012 list focusses on one element of the new era, the ability of computers to mimic the human senses in their own way, to see, smell, touch, taste and hear, it added.

IBM said its scientists are developing applications for the retail, healthcare and other sectors using haptic, infrared and pressure sensitive technologies to simulate touch, such as the texture and weave of a fabric.

Using the vibration capabilities of the phone, every object will have a unique set of vibration patterns that represents the touch experience, helping differentiate silk from linen or cotton, it said.

"We envision a day when computers make sense of the world around them just like human brain relies on interacting with the world using multiple senses," IBM India/South Asia Director (India Research Lab) and Chief Technology Officer Ramesh Gopinath said.

Another innovation is built around sound. A distributed system of clever sensors will detect elements of sound like sound pressure, vibrations and sound waves at different frequencies. These inputs can then be interpreted to predict, for example when trees will fall in a forest or when a landslide may occur.

"Such a system will 'listen' to our surroundings and measure movements, or the stress in a material, to warn us if danger lies ahead," the company statement said.

Also, by learning about emotion and being able to sense mood will help improve customer call center interactions or allow seamless interacting between different cultures.

IBM said its researchers are also developing a computing system that actually experiences flavour, to be used with chefs to create the most tasty and novel recipes, it said.

During the next five years, tiny sensors embedded in computer or cell phone will be able to detect if one is coming down with a cold or other illness.

"By analysing odours, biomarkers and thousands of molecules in someone's breath, doctors will have help diagnosing and monitoring the onset of ailments such as liver and kidney disorders and asthma by detecting which odours are normal and which are not," it said.

PTI