Video: Five life-changing innovations

IBM has come up with a list of innovations that it argues have the potential to change the way people work, live and play in the next five years.

The top five is based on market and society trends, along with emerging technologies that are already being worked on at IBM labs, and which were felt to be the most viable for release in the next five years.

Day-to-day use of solar technology

IBM said that solar energy will be an affordable option in the next five years, which could be embedded in things like rooftops, paints, windows and pavements.

Solar cells are considered too expensive to be widely used in these ways, but this could change thanks to thin-film' solar cells. These are 100 times thinner than silicon-wafer cells and produced at a cheaper cost.

Thin-film solar cells have the ability to be printed and arranged flexibly. IBM said that this could mean their use in buildings, windows, mobile phones, laptops, cars, and clothing.

Genetic health predictions by doctors

In the next five years, IBM claimed that doctors will be able to provide patients with a genetic map' which shows what health risks a patient will most likely face in their lifetime thanks to analysis of DNA.

With a potential cost of less than $200 (131), the map will allow a patient to look at what the risks are and change specific things about their lifestyles to avoid medical risk.

Doctors will be able to prescribe more accurate treatments, while pharmaceutical companies could create medicines which are targeted at individuals.

Voice activated internet surfing

The technology is already available for somebody to surf the internet simply by using voice commands.

It will be extremely useful in places like India, where the spoken word is more prominent and mobile phone growth outstrips PCs. People will be able to post, scan, and respond to emails and instant messages without typing.

It's claimed that at some point you'll be able to sort through the web verbally and have the information read back like a conversation with the net.

Digital shopping assistants

New technology and new types of mobile devices could make in-store shopping assistants redundant.

Digital shopping assistants in the form of touch screen and voice activated kiosks will allow you to choose clothing items, with sales assistants being notified who will collect the items and bring them over to you.

IBM said that you'll be able to take photos of yourselves in the different clothes, emailing them to your friends or family. Like online shopping, you'll also be able to access product ratings and reviews from fellow buyers.

Everyday life memory' storage

Thanks to portable storage devices as well as tiny microphones and cameras, it will be possible for people to store their conversations and activities.

This will be useful for people to remember what discussions they had, and smartphones with geo-location technology has the potential to remind people to pick up shopping at a certain time.