IBM researchers' list of promising new technologies includes the ability to "talk" to the Web; information collection and retrieval systems that cover us when we forget something; solar technology built into asphalt, windows, and paint; genetic maps of every person's DNA; and personal digital shopping assistants that alert salespeople when someone needs help and avatars to allow shoppers to see what clothing looks good. IBM creates the list by consulting with leading innovators at the company, says Sharon Nunes, IBM's vice president for Big Green Innovations.
The spoken Web project has been in development at IBM for more than 30 years. Creating a spoken Web interface could enable users to verbally respond to email and instant messages. Nunes says the technology exists in bits and pieces, and that scaling and social acceptance are the major hurdles to widescale use. Meanwhile, IBM researchers say that conversations, reminders, lists, and daily encounters will be recorded, stored, and analyzed using portable and stationary devices, such as mobile phones with built-in microphones and video cameras, to help users remember everything. IBM also says that cheaper computational power will allow for widespread, inexpensive genetic mapping, enabling healthcare professionals to consult a patient's DNA for screening and preventative treatment.
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