The technology already exists in rudimentary form—and it's available commercially. NeuroSky, a San Jose, Calif., based electronics company sells a headset that measures brainwaves and allows a user to move an object. Last year, a group of researchers in the United Kingdom used their technology to control a crane and Mattel's Mindflex game uses a NeuroSky headset to allow players to move a foam ball using brainwaves.
IBM also listed biometric authentication, universal internet connectivity, personalized "junk mail" and human-generated power sources as other innovations that "have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years."
David Westendorf, the company's general manager, says in the next two years, smartphones might be able detect the excitement over seeing your friend's name in a contact list and dial the number automatically.
Both Westendorf and Meyerson hold out hope that advances in technology will allow brain waves and thoughts to be read through the skull externally with enough accuracy to be useful. They admit it's a stretch to expect consumers to implant chips in their brain in order to play a game or seamlessly make phone calls, at least for now.