IBM: Future Computers to Detect Smell, Taste, Sound

Dennis Faas's picture

IBM says the next wave of computing devices will address areas never before associated with technology, including the ability to see, smell, taste, and hear.

If the report's predictions prove accurate, such new computer capabilities could dramatically change human society.

IBM made these predictions in its recent "IBM 5 in 5" report. It's the seventh straight year that IBM has released the report, which discusses innovations expected to affect the technology industry during the next five years.

This year, the "5 in 5" report's predominant theme was human senses, and the way future computers will use special algorithms to replicate those perceptual capabilities. (Source:

Computer Taste Buds to Change Food and Health Industries

Such developments could significantly impact several major industries, says the report, particularly food and health.

"Not only will it make healthy foods more palatable -- it will also surprise us with unusual pairings of foods actually designed to maximize our experience of taste and flavor," IBM said in its report. (Source:

Think of it this way: right now someone with diabetes can have a hard time turning away sweets like chocolate and candy, even though eating such foods could make them seriously ill.

In the future, computers could combine flavors and recipes to help people with diabetes satisfy a sweet tooth without putting their health at risk.

Sensors to Detect Oncoming Illnesses

IBM also believes advancements in these sensory technologies could allow computer and cellphone companies to detect when a person is developing an illness.

Ideally, such early warnings would convince the person to seek out the help of a doctor, treating or even curing the issue before it becomes too serious.

Computerized sensors could also be used to detect sound waves and frequencies. According to IBM, such developments could help to save lives.

"Within five years, a distributed system of clever sensors will detect elements of sound such as sound pressure, vibrations and sound waves at different frequencies," IBM noted in its report.

"It will interpret these inputs to predict when trees will fall in a forest or when a landslide is imminent." (Source:

To read more about IBM's "5 in 5" report, click here.

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