Here’s a look at some of IBM’s previous predictions about the transformative impact of cognitive computing and AI that are now becoming reality.


Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone

Advances in haptics or touch via mobile devices is becoming a reality. Researchers at the University of Michigan developed a technology that would bring 3D touch-like features to most smartphones, allowing devices to distinguish between different levels of force being applied. This technology allows users to carry out certain tasks quickly; dialing 911 by squeezing their smartphone in a certain pattern, for example. A different pattern might turn the music on or flip a page on the screen .Similarly, technology from Immersion Corporation allows production of videos and mobile ads enhanced with tactile effects for certain Android-based mobile platforms.

Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousand words

The field of computer vision has progressed by leaps and bounds over the last several years. At IBM Research, for example, scientists are developing cognitive computing algorithms in the field of visual analytics, designing systems with a computational form of sight to help transform fields like healthcare and, specifically, to tackle diseases like skin cancer. In collaboration with MSK, researchers developed cognitive systems that use machine learning and visual recognition technologies to examine images of skin lesions and recognize key visual patterns, helping dermatologists identify cancerous states.

Taste: Digital taste buds will help you to eat smarter

IBM -- together with chefs from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) -- debuted Chef Watson at SXSW in March 2014, followed by a collaboration with Bon Appetit to build a Chef Watson web application for home cooks. Today, Chef Watson is being used to help discover unexpected flavor combinations they might never have thought to put together before, as well as discovering solutions to help with everyday mealtime challenges in creative ways. Bear Naked used Chef Watson to give customers the power to make their own healthy granola, creating thousands of new granola combinations from more than 50 ingredients.

Hearing: Computers will hear what matter

Significant advances are being made in creating cognitive systems that can interpret and analyze sounds to create a holistic picture of our surroundings. IBMand Rice University are working together to develop a sensor platform to help the elderly and their caregivers. The platform can “see,” “listen” and “talk,” providing guidance and assistance to help the elderly stay healthy, mobile and independent. Researchers at IBM also developed Watson Beat, a cognitive technology that can help artists create original compositions. The technology helped Grammy award-winning music producer and artist Alex Da Kid compose the "Not Easy” track for his first album.

Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell

Teaching computers to develop a sense of smell is a very hard task, though incremental progress is being made every year. For example, IBM SyNAPSE is a computer chip that functions like a brain does with the ability to sense, taste, feel, smell, hear and understand its surroundings. It could enable a thermometer that can “smell” what disease you have and notify you if a doctor visit is required.

The classroom will learn you

The classroom of the future is here. In 2014, scientists at IBM worked on a joint project with Gwinnett County Public Schools (the 14th largest school district in the US, located in metro Atlanta) on a personalized learning system. The system uses cognitive technologies to identify learning needs of students and recommend personalized learning pathways. IBM also partnered with Pearson, the world’s learning company, to make Watson’s cognitive capabilities available to millions of college students and professors. Combining IBM’s cognitive capabilities with Pearson’s digital learning products will give students a more immersive learning experience with their college courses, an easy way to get help and insights when they need it, all through asking questions in natural language just like they would with another student or professor. IBM is also collaborating with Sesame Workshop to develop a new category of adaptive learning tools for preschoolers.

Buying local will beat online

IBM is working with several businesses to use cognitive computing to merge the immediacy and instant gratification of physical shopping with the richness and intelligence of online shopping. Macy's is piloting "Macy’s On Call," a mobile web tool that allows customers to input questions in natural language about a store’s unique product assortment, services and facilities and then receive a customized response. IBM and VineSleuth collaborated on Wine4Me, a cognitive computing-enabled app that can be used in-store at a kiosk to help wine consumers get individualized recommendations.

Doctors will routinely use your DNA to keep you well

Full DNA sequencing is on its way to becoming a routine procedure. In 2014, New York Genome Center and IBM started a collaboration to accelerate the race to personalized, life-saving treatment for brain cancer patients. As a follow on, in 2015, IBM announced another collaboration with more than a dozen leading cancer institutes to accelerate the ability of clinicians to use Watson to identify and personalize treatment options for patients. Recently, IBM and Quest Diagnostics announced a new service that helps advance precision medicine by combining cognitive computing with genomic tumor sequencing.

A digital guardian will protect you online

Scientists at IBM have taken the lead in fighting cybercrime using cognitive security technologies. IBM recently launched the Cyber Security Beta Program with 40 global leaders in banking, healthcare, insurance, education and other key industries. IBM’s X-Force library, which includes 20 years of security intelligence, is a central part of the solution’s corpus of knowledge and advanced behavioral analytics to better identify threats. The solution leverages advanced machine learning to help clients find potential vulnerabilities faster and make real-time decisions.

The city will help you live in it

Since 2010, through its Smarter Cities Challenge, IBM has deployed more than 800 top experts to help more than 130 cities around the world learn and understand the most critical challenges it faces and provide pro bono counsel to address them. IBM has developed a vast portfolio of solutions and technologies that can derive insights from crowdsourcing, mobile application and IoT platforms to allow cities to better listen, interact and respond to citizen needs giving rise to cognitive cities that can respond in real-time, predict problems before they occur, and deliver tailored services to make city life better for everyone.

What is IBM Research disrupting today?