Mind reading, biometric passwords may be reality

Last Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 18:56

New Delhi: Imagine a world where you don`t have to pay power bills because you are able to create energy for your requirements, or you can read the mind of the person sitting next to you.

Or, imagine walking up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that recognises the unique patterns in the retina of your eye.

All this might sound like science fiction but according to technology giant IBM, these could become reality in the next five years.

IBM has unveiled its sixth annual `IBM Five in Five`, a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years.

According to the company, technological advances in the coming years will enable people to utilise the energy they create through everyday activities for their power needs.

"Advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect this kinetic energy, which now goes to waste, and use it to help power our homes, workplaces and cities," IBM said in a statement.

So, imagine attaching small devices to the spokes on a bicycle wheel that recharge batteries as one peddles along.

One would not only reach their destination in an eco-friendly manner, but also power some of the lights at their home.

Another innovation IBM believes could soon become a reality is mind reading.

"IBM scientists are researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone. If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens. Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it," IBM said.

Scientists in the field of bioinformatics have designed headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognise facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and thoughts of a person without them physically taking any actions, it added.

IBM said within 5 years, one would begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry.

Also, doctors could use the technology to test brain patterns, possibly even assist in rehabilitation from strokes and to help in understanding brain disorders, such as autism.

Another innovation which could be of significance is not having to remember passwords.

"Your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon, it will become the key to safeguarding it," IBM said.

So, one will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins.

"Each person has a unique biological identity and behind all that is data. Biometric data, facial definitions, retinal scans and voice files ? will be composited through software to build your DNA unique online password," IBM said.

Referred to as multifactor biometrics, smarter systems will be able to aggregate this information in real-time to make sure that whoever is attempting to access information is the genuine and matches the profile.

Another innovation that could blur the line between fiction and reality is the ceasing of the digital divide as mobile phones empowers those at the bottom of the pyramid.

With mobile phones becoming cheaper by the day, people without a lot of spending power will also be able to do much more than they can today on their devices.
In India, using speech technology and mobile devices, IBM has enabled rural villagers who were illiterate to pass along information through recorded messages on their phones.

With access to information that was not there before, villagers could check weather reports to help them decide when to fertilise crops, know when doctors were coming into town, and find the best prices for their crops.

Five years from now, junk mail could become priority mail as they become more customised, feels IBM.

"In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalised and relevant it may seem spam is dead. At the same time, spam filters will be so precise you`ll never be bothered by unwanted sales pitches again," IBM said.

The company is developing technology that uses real-time analytics to make sense and integrate data from across all facets of one`s life like social networks and online preferences and then recommend information that is useful to the user.

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 18:56

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