While you may not be a physicist, you are a walking sensor. In five years, sensors in your phone, your car, your wallet and even your tweets will collect data that will give scientists a real-time picture of your environment. You'll be able to contribute this data to fight global warming, save endangered species or track invasive plants or animals that threaten ecosystems around the world. In the next five years, a whole class of "citizen scientists" will emerge, using simple sensors that already exist to create massive data sets for research.
Simple observations such as when the first thaw occurs in your town, when the mosquitoes first appear, if there’s no water running where a stream should be - all this is valuable data that scientists don’t have in large sets today. Even your laptop can be used as a sensor to detect seismic activity. If properly employed and connected to a network of other computers, your laptop can help map out the aftermath of an earthquake quickly, speeding up the work of emergency responders and potentially saving lives.
Recently, IBM (NYSE: IBM) unveiled the fifth annual "Next Five in Five" – a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years. The Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s Labs around the world that can make these innovations possible.
In the next five years, IBM predicts that technology innovations will change people’s lives in the following ways.