IBM Makes Tech Predictions for 2016

Dennis Faas's picture

Biometric information used for identification is among IBM's five newest forecasts for the year 2016, along with thought-reading smartphones, which is reminiscent of a forecast it made five years ago.

Since 2006, IBM has published an annual list of five technology trends it expects to take effect within five years. This year's forecasts include the end of passwords, which by 2016 may be replaced by biometric log-ins like fingerprint scanners, iris scanners or even DNA readers.

As science fiction as that may seem, it's already in the works: Windows 8 is thought to support an option for log-ins via facial recognition on a webcam.

Side note from Dennis: I just purchased two Eikon Solo fingerprint readers from Amazon a few weeks ago. It works great with Windows 7 for logging into the PC, as well as logging into RoboForm, which manages all my web browser / web site logins. I like using this device so much, I ordered two more just last week. They're currently listed at $25 + free shipping via

Gadgets Garner Kinetic Energy

Another IBM forecast is that mobile gadgets will harness kinetic energy generated when people move, allowing batteries to recharge without plugging in. In fact, scientists have already built a prototype that uses a specially adapted shoe to charge a cellphone.

IBM's third prediction is that a combination of a) anti-spam filters becoming more effective and b) advertisers doing a better job of targeting and personalizing emails will mean we no longer even think of messages as spam.

IBM also believes that mobile technology will spread more to developing nations, bridging some of the "digital divide" between wealthy and poor regions. (Source:

High-Tech Healthcare Comes to Pass

This year's final prediction has been made by IBM before: the company says that by 2016 smartphones will be able to electronically measure brain activity.

Ironically, the debut list in 2006, forecasting our current tech world of 2011, also promised "mind-reading phones." In that case, though, the idea wasn't so literal. Instead, IBM predicted that phones would take account of location information and act accordingly; for example, delivering details of special offers in nearby shops -- a prediction that proved largely correct. (Source:

The rest of the 2006 forecasts for 2011 proved a mixed bag.

IBM successfully predicted greater use of electronic technology in healthcare, such as doctors using tablet computers on their rounds, or medical images being transmitted from patients in remote locations to doctors in centralized hospitals.

In 2006, IBM also accurately foresaw real-time translation of speech as well as written text, though that remains too expensive a technology for consumer use in real-life 2011.

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