Blogs » Digital Babble » In the year 2015: Air-breathing batteries, computers energizing cities

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While everyone is making their lists of top things that happened in the last year, or decade, I was intrigued to read IBM's "Next Five in Five" list.

The list is comprised of five innovations IBM researchers say will emerge and be in use by 2015. I starting reading this list for research on my next column, which is about one of the items on the list (Spoiler alert: think Star Wars/Star Trek).

Here's a description of the list from IBM's press release:

• You'll beam up your friends in 3-D

• Batteries will breathe air to power our devices

• You won’t need to be a scientist to save the planet

• Your commute will be personalized

• Computers will help energize your city

So of course being the huge geek I am, the 3-D thing caught my eye. Holograms by cell phone! But I won't talk much about that here, I'll leave that for my column.

Next on the list, batteries that breath air. Wild stuff!

Instead of the heavy lithium-ion batteries used today, scientists are working on batteries that use the air we breath to react with energy-dense metal, eliminating a key inhibitor to longer lasting batteries. If successful, the result will be a lightweight, powerful and rechargeable battery capable of powering everything from electric cars to consumer devices. ... But what if we could eliminate batteries all together? By rethinking the basic building block of electronic devices, the transistor, IBM is aiming to reduce the amount of energy per transistor to less than 0.5 volts. With energy demands this low, we might be able to lose the battery altogether in some devices like mobile phones or e-readers. [Source: IBM.com]

We can't all be scientists, but we can do our part to help with research. Also on IBM's list are "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."

And that's not all, IBM is also working on mobile apps that allow "typical citizens to contribute invaluable data to causes, like improving the quality of drinking water or reporting noise pollution."

While browsing IBM's website, I saw information about an app that is already available: Creek Watch. This app allows citizens to take a snapshot of a creek or stream, answer three simple questions about it and the data is automatically accessible by the local water authority.

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You can download Creek Watch for free from the iTunes store or read more about it on CreekWatch.org.

The advancement of technology never ceases to amaze me. It's fun to watch movies from just 10 years ago or so, set far in the future and see technology used that exists today. And sometimes the technology we have now is much more advanced than the gadgets used in these futuristic films. Who knows what the future of technology will bring?

I'm still waiting for that sandwich-making robot. But please, scientists, please don't make my sandwich-making robot look creepy like this one. (Don't click on that link unless you want horrible, scary, creepy robot dreams.)

In the meantime I'll have to be content with current advances in technology which have brought us such gems as Pajama Jeans:

Ain't technology grand?