back to article Forget about fondling that slab... within 2 years, it'll fondle YOU

IBM has released its annual predictions for the next five years of technology, including phones that sniff you for germs and actual fondling through fondleslabs. Big Blue reckons that the future holds tiny sensors embedded in computers or mobes that will "smell" if you're coming down with a cold. The sensors will be tuned into …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Haku

    "ABC company predicts XY in Z years"

    I love a nice science fiction news story :D

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "ABC company predicts XY in Z years"

      and not a single mention of what everyone will use this technology for.

      When can this slab fondle my junk??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "ABC company predicts XY in Z years"

        It already can, there are a few accessories out there to hook up your fondle slab to a Fleshlight.

        And no I don't have one, I'd be so embarrassed if someone caught me with an iPad

  2. wowfood

    Excuse me.

    IBM believes that baby talk could be interpreted as a language, telling parents what junior is trying to say.

    Simpsons did it.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Excuse me.

      Does that count as prior art?

      1. Richard 81

        Re: Excuse me.

        "This leash demeans us both"

      2. Neil Porter

        Re: Excuse me.

        Wowfood could be just quoting General Disarray of South Park.

        I do wonder though if the Simpsons writers had patented all their ideas whether they'd now be winning the Apple vs Samsung patent wars...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excuse me.

      IBM voice recognition software can't even interpret normal human speech with anything like acceptable accuracy, and now they reckon baby talk will be no problem ...

    3. Benchops

      Re: Excuse me.

      I heard tell once (sorry, no actual reference, but it's plausible) of a psychologist who wanted to analyse their baby's speech development so recorded it 24/7 for months. Obviously you can't listen to all that so got a software engineer to write something to look for similar patterns in the babble sounds and how those sounds evolved.

      The interesting result was that the software found the similarities stretching much further back than it becomes at all obvious to human ears that the baby is trying to make some kind of word sound.

      Babies' speech inability are partly due to them not having a properly developed mouth/windpipe aimed at talking (but it allows them to e.g. breathe whilst drinking) so they physically can't make the same noises we do. I know from experience that teaching a baby to sign (Makaton or Signalong or a mix of both!) means they can communicate by signing words long before they are actually able to say them. What worries me is that babies will start talking to each other and plotting ;)

      The other thing we ought to be able to do is work out what whales are saying when they're not underwater (presumably "put me back in the bloody water").

      1. Benchops

        Babies speech recognition

        Baby: sih, gug gug bubububub

        Siri: opening the playpen door

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Babies speech recognition

          "Baby: sih, gug gug bubububub // Siri: opening the playpen door"

          Surely the baby is the one asking it to open the playpen doors, and Siri's the one saying "I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that"? (^_^)

          Actually, given Apple's stereotypical control freakery over their hardware, that would be quite an appropriate response. ;-)

      2. Fr. Ted Crilly

        Re: Excuse me.

        'What worries me is that babies will start talking to each other and plotting ;)'

        Presumably discussing where to get some sharks fitted with lasers.. etc

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Crap joke that doesn't really work if you think about it...

      "IBM believes that baby talk could be interpreted as a language, telling parents what junior is trying to say."

      This suggests a variant of the well-known joke, where a couple have a child that speaks in nothing but baby talk, even long after he's started school. They take him to doctors, child psychologists... nothing works.

      One day, out of nowhere, the child pipes up "Mother, this soup is cold". The shocked mother says tearfully, "You never spoke properly before!", to which the child replies "The baby-speak translator was never broken before"

      Of course, in reality, the child would never have learned to speak, and it'd be a frustrated 7-year-old trying to express himself by saying "ga ga goo goo". :-)

  3. Mondo the Magnificent

    Oh boy....

    "By being taught what baby sounds mean – whether fussing indicates a baby is hungry, hot, tired or in pain – a sophisticated speech recognition system would correlate sounds and babbles with other sensory or physiological information such as heart rate, pulse and temperature," Big Blue said.

    Hmm, this kind of prediction makes me wonder if technology will take the parent out of parenting.. I can just imagine some future yuppie suing an App or gizmo manufacturer because the device mistook their baby's colic cry for for teething pains...

    1. Fibbles

      Re: Oh boy....

      If baby gurgles were a proper language somebody would have learned it the old fashioned way by now. If they can communicate in any meaningful way it's likely to be a couple sounds indicating pain or hunger. Surely a computer isn't needed to work those out...

      1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

        Re: Oh boy....

        Indeed. Also, if such gurgles were properly understood then the baby would have no incentive to learn the language of its parents.

        1. Eddie Edwards

          Re: Oh boy....

          It doesn't need incentive; it's hard-wired to pick up spoken language.

    2. Neil Porter

      Re: Oh boy....

      It's not difficult, babies only say 3 things: hungry, tired, nappy change please.

  4. Psmiffy

    Leading the way

    As always, either the military or the porn industry will lead the development in these areas.

    I don't really need to explain do I?

    1. LJRich
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Leading the way

      I agree, all I read was "porn porn, porn porn porn. Porn porn. Porn. Boobies."

      I can't wait for holodecks...

      Paris because... do *I* really need to explain??

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Leading the way

        The Iphone's farting apps would definately be replaced by "boobie" apps for the Men or "Truck Nuts" if thats your thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Leading the way

          Disagree that this will be led by porn at all.

          The single biggest advantage porn has over real sex is the very fact that there's a complete lack of tastes and smells.

          Taste the action? Bleurgh, no thanks.

          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            Re: Leading the way

            That all depends on who you have been/are sleeping with.

            There is also another thing known as "soap", you would be surprised how efficient it is....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Leading the way

              Soap? I'd be seriously surprised if it removes the taste and smell from a fish.

      2. dssf

        Re: Leading the way in Immersive "Play"

        Drop yer linens and start yer grinnin, because ...

        "Finally Here"? Hmmm,

        Once, a few months ago in a Best Buy, i joked that Microsoft could fund immersive sex gaming and rebrand it so it would not taint the brand of the XBox. Otherwise, XBox would become known very quicky as SexBox, or ScexxBocc, etc., as it takes hold

        Imagine the new adult babbling sounds on buses and in other places if there is no longer a modicum of decency...

        Now, if Wii, XBox, IBM's thing, and thise immersive app all join forces it might usher in a new era of global stability. Not available in all areas.... Availability subject to local government approval. Satisfaction not guaranteed. Past performance not an indicator of future success. Investmwisely, use carefully. Not to be used by those on medications or treatments for... Well, standard disclaimers might take more time than the basic advert.

  5. Gomez Adams

    But will it help Arthur Dent ...

    ... get a nice hot cup of tea?

    1. Richard 81

      Re: But will it help Arthur Dent ...

      No, but then he's just an ignorant monkey that doesn't know any better.

  6. Alister Silver badge

    As well as coming up with strange new food combinations, the eating computer will also be able to make healthy foods taste better.

    The Nutri-matic machine made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic examination of the subject's metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject's brain to see what was likely to go down well.

    However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

    Thanks Douglas...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Computers will be able to "see" pictures

    I've read about this in the 70s, then again in the 90s, then again... and again...

    Pretty much like the "flying car" promise, just a promise.

  8. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Here you go...

    "Big Blue reckons that the future holds tiny sensors embedded in computers or mobes that will "smell" if you're coming."

    Fixed it for you.

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge

    And you think privacy is invaded NOW?

    Just wait until every pharmacy you walk past has biosensors that diagnose every little sniffle (or droop!) and instantly announce to the world: "You're coming down with .... why not pop in for 10% off some Viagra and a couple of lollipop sticks".

    Even worse is when these sensors become more sensitive than our, natural, senses: the machines will know more about us than we can tell, ourselves. Not only will drug testing be ubiquitous, it'll be carried out passively and remotely without your knowledge or consent - by people you didn't even know existed.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: And you think privacy is invaded NOW?

      One day they'll tell us they "like us", and then we'll really be in trouble.

  10. Neil Porter

    Context please

    It'd be useful if you could provide links back to previous years predictions from IBM. Will we be laughing about predictions of flying cars? Perhaps some of their old predictions actually came true?

    Personally I always feel conned by this nonsense. I've been tranished forever by the PR bullsh** from Segway before it was revealed, I thought we were talking jet packs or something exciting...

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Context please

      Here is a quite interesting, in context, article from the NY Times

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Context please

      Previous gems from IBM:

      "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

      Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

      "But what ... is it good for?"

      Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Context please

      Yes, if only there were some way to find previous years' "5 in 5" predictions...

      As I type, has this year's 5-in-5 occupying most of the real estate, and if you follow that link, there's a "tab" right at the top for previous 5-in-5s.

      Here's a direct link:

      Really, in the time it takes to post a request for the link, you can find it.

      They've only been doing the 5-in-5 since 2006, so technically only the first two years' predictions are "due". And (as I think I mentioned in a comment to last year's Reg article on the subject) they're so vague that they're basically useless anyway. But here we go:


      + We will be able to access healthcare remotely, from just about anywhere in the world

      No, not really. There are successful "telemedicine" projects, but it's hardly universal. And whether that constitutes "access[ing] (ugh) healthcare remotely" is debatable.

      + Real-time speech translation—once a vision only in science fiction—will become the norm

      Hardly "the norm".

      + There will be a 3-D Internet

      Wait, what? Does this mean the network will be a non-planar graph? No, apparently they mean "3D content" in some extremely general sense will be available online. Woo and/or hoo.

      + Technologies the size of a few atoms will address areas of environmental importance

      This mysterious phrase apparently applies to, um, chemicals that can be used in recycling. My guess is that it was originally written to imply some kind of nifty nanotech utopia, without of course specifying anything very interesting.

      + Our mobile phones will start to read our minds

      Not while I'm wearing my foil beanie, thanks. Actually, what they apparently meant by this was all sorts of intrusive spying misfeatures like "location awareness".


      + It will be easy to be green and save money doing it

      Everyone knows it's not easy being green. (And hey, who remembers when "green" meant "callow, untested, immature"? Or does it still mean that?) Oh, and here's a shocker for you supergenius futurologists: it has long been pretty straightforward to save money and reduce resource consumption by not consuming so many resources.

      + The way you drive will be completely different

      Yeah, thanks to that court order.

      + You are what you eat, so you should know what you're eating

      How is this a prediction?

      + Your cell phone will be your wallet, ticket broker, concierge, bank, shopping buddy and more

      Screw you, gadget freaks. Look, my phone is already a typewriter and a record player and all sorts of crazy things. I do not want it to be any of the above.

      + Doctors will have enhanced super-senses to better diagnose and treat you

      And surgeons will have frickin' lasers on their heads for hands-free slicing and dicing!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind all that rubbish..

    Where the fudge is my hoverboard?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Back to the Future II

      Well, they *had* invented it in the original version of the future. Unfortunately, all Michael J Fox's convoluted jumping around and altering the time streams mean that this no longer gets invented in our dicked-about-with future.

      Instead of this, Apple will launch a new giant protective "sock" for the iPad 6 and sell it for £40. I'm sure you'll agree that this was a fair trade-off.

      Okay, okay. I know I'm being silly. Apple would never do anything that ludicrous...


  12. Zaphod.Beeblebrox

    Is it just me

    Or are the title and subtitle reversed?

  13. The Godfather


    Will it shave or laser the hairs round 'privates' and emit soothing balm and slow massage as a finale? Will it provide the answer as to why some farts smell while others don't?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quaint...but it doesn't rock

    A nice article. Really gentle reading to keep the brand "IBM" in the news. But hardly anything of significance other than the admittance that, after selling its PC division to Lenovo in 2005 and the rampant rise of hand held devices and mobile services right after that, some opportunities were lost.

    If we are talking innovation, then we don't talk about fridge-knows-you-are-low-on-milk or tablet-can-smell stories.

    Let's talk about "High speed train starts in Paris reaches Tokyo in 30 hours", "TCP/IP to be replaced with faster transmission protocol - DNS had its day", "Mobile Phones use GPS, Glonass and Galileo in parallel", "OLED light bulbs make LED redundant","tape drives to be replaced with PCM memory"

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019