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Life in 2020 Will Probably Include Superhero Vision, Macroscopes and More, Says IBM

Jan 25, 2017 11:21 AM EST

Whether it's the field of science, technology or everything else, a lot can happen in five years. In an aptly-named project called "5 in 5", IBM predicts the top advancements that will likely be part of the landscape in 2022. Here are the company's list of up-and-coming technology set to rock the world five years from now.

1 AI will use words to assess mental health

Words reveal a lot about a person's well-being. In the future, artificial intelligence is poised to take advantage of this as machine learning and language processing play important roles in observing mental health, leading to quick and accurate diagnosis of conditions like depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's, according to the report on the website read.

For their part, IBM is currently developing an automated speech analysis application for mobile devices that can provide an overview of a person's mental health with just a one-minute speech sample.

2 Superhero vision

As amazing the gift of eyesight is, it is extremely limited to much of the world. According to the IBM report, over 99.9 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum is beyond the capabilities of the naked eye. Specialized equipment have been invented for specific situations, but five years from now, the technology is expected to be far more accessible.

IBM scientists are already creating a hyperimaging platform that can see "across separate portions of the electromagnetic spectrum". The advantages to gaining access to things usually beyond human perception is endless; it could provide drivers and self-driving cars a clearer picture of the road even in harsh conditions like fog and snow. It could also give the nutritional value of dishes, check for fraud, and more.

3 Macroscopes

There are endless streams of data collected by millions and millions of devices all over the world. Macroscope "is a system of software and algorithms to bring all of Earth's complex data together to analyze it by space and time for meaning."

In five years, the world will be equipped to gain new insight on the physical world through this technology, in the hopes of addressing fundamental problems like availability of food and water. IBM Research leads the charge by studying macroscope technology at Gallo Winery.

4 Medical lab chips

Described in the website as "nanotechnology health detectives", these single-silicon chips are envisioned to process and analyze the body like one would usually have to visit laboratories for. Five years from now, IBM expects this lab-on-a-chip technology to be available in handheld devices that can detect biomarkers in bodily fluids. When combined with data from other devices like smart watches, the chip can provide a detailed overview of a person's health.

5 Smart sensors for pollution

Many pollutants like methane are invisible, despite their destructive nature to the Earth's atmosphere. Thus, detection of these are as important as they are difficult. IBM is developing sensors that will be continuously monitoring the environment for pollutants like methane leaks or oil in the water.

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