Three Broad Themes of Research

The groundbreaking work being done at Frontiers Institute is organized into three broad themes based on how we see the role of technology evolving in business and society. Our researchers are pushing the performance of computing and developing new information processing platforms. They’re making sense of the ever-growing mountain of data at our disposal. And they’re continuing the great scientific tradition of developing new tools to see further into and farther beyond the world we live in.

Learn how to join the Institute

Computing Reimagined

Machine Intelligence

We're using the brain's wondrous neocortex as a model for developing flexible systems that continuously learn - and without human supervision.

Quantum Applications

Broadly accessible Quantum Computers are here today. They hold the potential to solve intractable problems, reveal unforeseen opportunities, and fundamentally change the way we look at the world around us. What will you do with so much power to process information?

Physical Blockchain

We are going to bring Blockchain to the phyiscal world by employing a “blockchain device” to embed verifiable provenance and intelligence into physical goods.


The development of miniature, low-power microsystems is core to the explosion of the Internet of Things. These devices have power needs that are not met by conventional batteries — so we are developing a new class of Microbattery.

Data Experienced

Internet of the Body

Imagine wearable sensor arrays with a host of embedded functions: compute, memory, communication, and power. Now imagine they’re tiny and inexpensive enough to be put anywhere. In an age when we’re all becoming an internet unto ourseleves — capable of delivering, receiving, and analyzing data in real-time — how will these devices change communication? Business? Healthcare? Privacy and Security?


“The invisible made visible.” The Hyperimager is a concentrated effort to develop new measurement technologies to enable humanity to see activity and behavior from the nanoscale to the scope of complex systems and even beyond the visible spectrum.


Inspired by the human nose, which uses a relatively small set of sensors and can be trained to differentiate between many different scents, we are developing a device to distinguish several trillion odors. Combining an array of optimized, nonspecific sensors with machine learning algorithms to interpret the data, it could have powerful applications in the realm of IoT and make a huge impact in environmental monitoring, food safety, healthcare, automotive, and security, among other applications.


The human tongue, with its 10,000 embedded taste buds, provides us with an immediate and powerful mechanism to discriminate liquids, recall information about them, and to rapidly make important decisions: Is this fruit still ok to eat? Does this coffee need more sugar? Imagine if we could impart the same ability to machines and apply them to domains well beyond human capability!

Discovery Accelerated

Accelerated Materials Discovery

The current development timeline for a new material is in excess of 10 years. Can cognitive and analytic systems learn materials science and help discover new materials in a significantly shorter time?

Biomimicry Explorer

Nature represents a vast resource of ingenious solutions to complex problems. Throughout history, innovators have discovered efficient solutions to engineering problems by finding inspiration from nature. What if we could systematically access the design solutions that are available in nature, so as to catalyze the inspiration that we draw from it? We are developing such a platform, using modern artificial intelligence technologies to accelerate a process of discovery that is as old as mankind itself.

Ongoing Projects (available to Founding Members)


From tweets to the weather, IoT sensors to video, the world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. This torrent of information has the potential to become the world’s greatest natural resource — if we can make sense of it. Which is what the macroscope intends to do.


As each of us increasingly loses ourselves in ever-smaller and ever-more-powerful personal computing devices, we’re increasingly missing out on the rich dynamics of human collaboration. But what if we could marry the benefits of the digitization with the intimacy and spontaneity of face-to-face interaction? How would your group collaborate in a device that they could actually walk into?


Some of the world’s largest problems are rooted in behaviors happening at the nanoscale. We’re building tools to reveal these underlying phenomena in hopes of understanding the inner-workings of our world — and their impact on your business.

Neuromorphic Devices and Architectures

Today, the process of training a machine learning system can take days or even weeks. What if it could happen in minutes or even seconds? Where and how would you use a tool capable of helping you making decisions in real time?


Microfluidic technologies may enable ultra-affordable, on-the-spot precision diagnostics of diseases. How would that change healthcare? What would happen to hospitals? What would it do for your well being?

IBM Research Frontiers Institute Early Access Program

Our Early Access Program provides Frontiers Institute members early access to the game-changing computing breakthroughs being imagined and tested inside IBM Research. An example is the World’s Most Advanced Multi-Qubit Quantum Computer.

The World’s Most Advanced Multi-Qubit Quantum Computer

In our first project, we’re working on a multi-qubit quantum computer with the potential to process information millions or even billions faster than any imaginable bit-based computer.

Our Next Quantum Leap

Stay tuned for an announcement from the frontiers of science and technology about our next Quantum Leap.