For the past few years, IBM has gathered its best and brightest minds to make five bold predictions about the technological innovations that could change our everyday lives within the next five years. The series, fittingly named 5 in 5, gives experts a chance to both outline the current state of research and innovation surrounding a topic and set a roadmap for its future development and applications.
THIS YEAR, THE UNDERLYING THEME OF THE SERIES IS MAKING THE INVISIBLE
This year, the underlying theme of the series is making the invisible visible, focusing on advanced perception and increased awareness of the world around us. Of the five predictions, there’s one standout that really catches the eye: IBM believes that hyperimaging and AI will give us superhero vision.
According to IBM, vision today is largely restricted to the field of human perception — but over 99.9 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum (like radio waves, microwaves, millimeter waves, infrared and x-rays) can’t be observed by the naked eye. Scientists have developed imaging tech to capture images within certain ranges of wavelengths (medical imaging devices and airport scanners are the first that come to mind), but they’re far from practical or accessible for use by the general public.
ALBERTO VALDES GARCIA OF IBM RESEARCH AND HIS TEAM ARE HARD AT WORK
Alberto Valdes Garcia of IBM Research and his team are hard at work to bring more of the electromagnetic spectrum into our day-to-day lives.
“We are building a portable hyperimaging platform that ‘sees’ across separate portions of the electromagnetic spectrum in one platform to potentially enable a host of practical and affordable devices and applications that are part of our everyday experiences,” he writes of his current work in a detailed 5 in 5 post. “We anticipate that the ability to leverage information from two or more separate portions of the spectrum will tell us a lot more about objects in the world around us.”
Five years in the future
Garcia predicts that within the next five years, we’ll have greater access to portable imaging devices “to see beyond the domain of visible light,” mapping out images over the greater electromagnetic spectrum, which will improve (and even change) perception.
With them, we’ll be able to see microwave, millimeter wave and infrared images — maybe even through apps on our phones. Consider that an early rumor for a feature of the 2021 iPhone.
THE APPLICATIONS FOR THIS TYPE OF TECH ARE LIMITLESS
The applications for this type of tech are limitless, affecting industries across a range as wide as the electromagnetic spectrum it looks to map. From showing a colorblind person what orange looks like (seen in the video above) to greatly improving a driver’s perception of an unclear road in real-time, making superhero vision a power accessible to everyday people will greatly improve our day-to-day lives.
Once we have that, maybe we can move onto Superman’s other powers. How about flight?