by Amy Vale
Tech companies are predicting that in the next five years we will no longer need passwords, and mobiles will be able to do things without us actually using the touch screen because we will be able to control our smartphones and laptops with our minds. Sound crazy and futuristic? Maybe. But researchers at tech companies such as IBM are working on making these ideas a reality, and the tech giant is including this as one of its main ideas in its sixth annual "5 in 5" report, five technologies "that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years."
Mind reading technology, known as bioinformatics, has already existed in simple forms including the work of toy makers and engineers for example the designing of headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognise facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels. Now, companies are working on mobile devices that you can control with your mind. For example, rather than having to tap on a touch screen or through a series of buttons to place a phone call, if the designs become a reality we may need only to imagine calling someone and a mind-reading phone will be able to make the connection and dial the number for you. This takes the smart in smartphone to a whole new level!
An example of this sort of technology and biometric data is already hitting the mobile mainstream with facial recognition applications. According to Samsung, the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note smartphones are in for an update in 2012 to Ice Cream Sandwich which has a unique app called Face Unlock that uses facial recognition technology to unlock the phone. When you press the power button, the front-facing camera on the phone activates and scans your face through recognition software. If your face matches the one used to setup Face Unlock, the phone is unlocked. Despite the criticisms of the app, that it can be finicky and flawed, the new software is a sign that we are moving toward more bioinformatics in mobile.
"Your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon it will become the key to safeguarding it," IBM said. "Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet."
This has the potential to fundamentally change the way we use mobiles, and in fact all technology. If IBM is correct and mind reading technology is on its way, we may have to prepare for a mobile revolution – but maybe they already know this if they can read our minds.