IBM has published their annual “5 in 5” which consists of five predictions about how technology innovations will change the way we live, work and play over the course of the next five years. The world’s largest industrial research organization first launched the yearly event back in 2006.

This year, IBM’s 5 in 5 focuses on the five basic human senses. Starting with sight, researchers believe that computers of the future will be able to look at imagines and determine the type of scene that is being displayed and more importantly, pick out distinctive features. For example, a computer could understand what’s going on in a photo without the need for image tags.

Today’s computers and even smartphones are already pretty decent at voice recognition but we’ve only scratched the surface, according to IBM. Future systems may be able to understand things like baby talk or analyze our mood based on the tone of our voice.

This is where things start to get a bit futuristic: taste. The company predicts that within five years, computers will develop a sense of taste. This could be used to determine, for example, what ingredients in food give it a pleasant taste. Such data could help chefs perfect the pairing of food and wine or even give them pointers on how to create more nutritious food that doesn’t taste like a piece of wet cardboard.

Computers with a sense of smell could be used to detect gases that humans aren’t able to detect with the nose – think along the lines of a carbon monoxide detector. Things like breathalyzers already do a good job of detecting blood alcohol content levels but in the future, we could use similar machines to detect things like cancer or a kidney disease. Other practical uses include using computers to sniff out drugs or explosives at airport security checkpoints, something that K-9 units already do a pretty good job of today.

Touch is already a big part of technology today. It allows us to feel vibrations in video games and gives us haptic feedback when typing text messages but again, that’s only the beginning. IBM thinks that future implementations could allow us to feel fabric from a piece of clothing or even perform remote medical procedures such as surgery.

Which of these future technologies do you feel is the most likely to become a reality and which would be the most beneficial to humans in general?