IBM Targets Five Innovations to Change the World in Five Years

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-12-17 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Prediction Four: Taste: Digital Taste Buds Will Help You Eat Smarter

IBM researchers are developing a computing system that actually experiences flavor, to be used with chefs to create the most tasty and novel recipes. It will break down ingredients to their molecular level and blend the chemistry of food compounds with the psychology behind what flavors and smells humans prefer. By comparing this with millions of recipes, the system will be able to create new flavor combinations that pair, for example, roasted chestnuts with other foods such as cooked beetroot, fresh caviar and dry-cured ham.

The computer will be able to use algorithms to determine the precise chemical structure of food and why people like certain tastes. These algorithms will examine how chemicals interact with each other, the molecular complexity of flavor compounds and their bonding structure, and use that information, together with models of perception, to predict the taste appeal of flavors.

Prediction Five: Smell: Computers Will Have a Sense of Smell

During the next five years, tiny sensors embedded in your computer or cell phone will detect if you're coming down with a cold or other illness. By analyzing odors, 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, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, by detecting which odors are normal and which are not.

Today IBM scientists are already sensing environmental conditions and gases to preserve works of art. This innovation is beginning to be applied to tackle clinical hygiene, one of the biggest challenges in health care today. For example, antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which in 2005 was associated with almost 19,000 hospital stay-related deaths in the United States, is commonly found on the skin and can be easily transmitted wherever people are in close contact. One way of fighting MRSA exposure in health care institutions is by ensuring medical staff follow clinical hygiene guidelines. In the next five years, IBM technology will "smell" surfaces for disinfectants to determine whether rooms have been sanitized. Using novel wireless "mesh" networks, data on various chemicals will be gathered and measured by sensors, and continuously learn and adapt to new smells over time, according to IBM.

Due to advances in sensor and communication technologies in combination with deep learning systems, sensors can measure data in places never thought possible. For example, computer systems can be used in agriculture to "smell" or analyze the soil condition of crops. In urban environments, this technology will be used to monitor issues with refuge, sanitation and pollution—helping city agencies spot potential problems before they get out of hand, IBM said.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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