Skip to main content

Innovation explanations

IBM's best and brightest share insights
into emerging subject areas and technologies

This series showcases some of IBM's brightest thinkers as they share insights into emerging subject areas and technologies. Their thoughts will help to understand the topics – such as smarter cities, the cloud, big data and more – that are changing our world.

Innovation highlighted

Super potential for super power

Graphene, only one atom thick, has lots of amazing properties. But many of them are proving elusive for real world applications. Shu-jen Han, an IBM researcher, tells how his team has demonstrated a graphene circuit that could vastly improve cell phones. Read more (US).

We made a full circuit—transistor, inductor, capacitor and resistor--all on a single wafer.

More explanations on other topics

Working with more than gut instinct

As the pace of change accelerates and data increases exponentially, gut instinct is no longer enough for good decisions. Brenda Dietrich, an IBM Fellow and vice president, talks about how analytics is helping to make decisions in almost all aspects of modern business and why that’s important. Read more (US).

The way things work today is not the way things worked five years ago. People have less time to build up experience that will remain relevant.

Watson cooks up computational creativity

The cognitive computing system Watson went to work developing new recipes. But its contributions won’t stop with food. Lead software engineer Florian Pinel says “computational creativity” can be applied to such diverse industries as travel, financial management and manufacturing. Read more (US).

“We wanted to see if computers could also be creative, instead of just reasoning about the world as it exists.”

Phil Gilbert

From features-first to user-first

Customer expectations for software design have changed drastically over the past few years, and satisfying a list of desired features is no longer enough to gain loyal customers. Phil Gilbert, general manager of IBM Design, says everyone in the development process should make the user their "north star."
Read more (US).


Opening up the world to everyone

As computers and the Internet become more and more central to daily life, the need for accessibility becomes increasingly important. IBM Fellow and research scientist Chieko Asakawa, herself blind since the age of 14, talks about this vital need.
Read more (US).

“Accessibility is about enabling human capability through innovation...

I’ll take ‘Business and Medicine,’ Alex

Two years after its resounding victory on Jeopardy! the cognitive computer Watson is hard at work helping cancer treatment and research and engaging customers in new ways. Rob High, an IBM Fellow, vice president and chief technology officer for Watson, relates the details. Read more (US).

Rajasekar Krishnamurthy on finding water's real cost

Around the world there is a backlog of some $1 trillion worth of water projects. One reason for that log jam is the difficulty in obtaining financing for water projects, in part because no one knows the real cost of water in a given area. Developed by IBM, the Water Cost Index is designed to fill that gap. Rajasekar Krishnamurthy explains how it works and why it’s important. Read more (US).

“Water is often subsidized in different ways, so it’s difficult, if not impossible to monitor its true cost.”

How can we put 'A Boy and His Atom” to work?

Being able to move individual atoms and switch their magnetic polarity holds great promise for increased computer efficiency and storage, says IBM staff scientist Chris Lutz. Read more (US).

“For years now, we've been putting more power and more storage on the same size device. If we continue this trend, we'll ultimately come to the level of atoms to accomplish it.”

Tim Geisert

Tim Geisert tells how to create a smarter workforce

A survey of CEOs found that 71 percent cited human capital as their greatest source of sustained economic value. But most executives don't know how to tap that value, says Tim Geisert, vice president, marketing, IBM Smarter Workforce. The solution is creating a smarter workforce by using a mixture of technology, analytics and services. Read more (US).

“The challenge for business executives today is to figure out how to get more out of their workforce and for workers to get more out of their work.”

Matt Berry talks about the growth of mobile technology

Mobile technology is already transforming the way we work, shop and socialise. That trend will only accelerate; soon connected devices will outnumber Earth's population. Matt Berry, director, Demand Generation and Client Experience for IBM MobileFirst, tells what else to expect. Read more (US).

Amanda Engler on nanomedicine

Microscopic polymer nanostructures hold great promise for defeating deadly bacteria that are resistant to conventional antibiotics. They've also been engineered into an antimicrobial hydrogel that could reduce infections, and that's only the beginning, says Amanda Engler,a post-doctoral researcher on IBM's nanomedicine team.
Read more (US).

Polymers could be engineered to carry drugs to specific points in the body. For example, we could deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to tumours or provide the ability to cross the blood/brain barrier to treat diseases that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease.

David Puzas on preserving reputations

When information technology fails or suffers a security breach, it can cripple production, sales or even accounts payable. But David Puzas, IBM's worldwide marketing executive for enterprise and workplace services, says it can also eviscerate a company's reputation. That's an expensive — and often prolonged — injury.
Read more (US).

There are so many ways that businesses are trying to touch the marketplace...For organizations that want to take advantage of emerging technologies, the need to do it securely should at least represent table stakes.

Guru Banavar on smarter cities

Already home to more than half of the world’s population, cities are expected to house almost 5 billion people by 2030. Guru Banavar wants to make those cities smarter. As IBM vice president and chief technology officer for the Global Public Sector, he works to make urban areas more efficient, safer and easier to navigate. Read more (US).

Cities are where the action is. That's where innovation is happening. That's where the opportunities are. The important cities almost ignore national borders. They become their own ecosystems and connect with other cities seamlessly.

Sara Weber on social business

Social media is already going way beyond posting baby pictures on Facebook. Sara Weber, who heads a team that uses emerging technologies to improve the way IBM gets things done, sees a future that will help colleagues find expertise within their organisation. Companies will have closer ties to their customers, and human resources departments could be largely automated. Read more (US).

When I think about social media, I think of a definition coined by Anthony Bradley of Gartner: 'an online environment established for the purpose of mass collaboration.

Dario Gil on smarter energy

Just how broad is the term “smarter energy”? Dario Gil, director of energy and natural resources at IBM Research, explains. It encompasses smart grids that give new versatility to electricity distribution, the emergence of electric vehicles, even more efficient ways to find and extract oil and natural gas. Read more (US).

Electrification was one of the greatest achievements of the twentieth century. But now, more than a decade into the next century, electrification and energy in general need to get smarter.

Chris Dotson on the cloud

The cloud is already ubiquitous thanks to consumer applications like Facebook and Gmail, and it's increasingly critical to business. Chris Dotson, a senior technical staff member in the IBM CIO Security office, discusses different approaches to using the cloud, including security issues. Read more (US).

The cloud is really a new service consumption model. With the cloud, you only pay for what you use.

Jeff Jonas on big data

What is big data, and what makes it different from regular data? How do organisations deal with it? Jeff Jonas, an IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist of the IBM Entity Analytics Group, goes behind the buzz. Read more (US).

Data started getting generated faster than organizations could get their hands around it. Then one day you simply wake up and feel like you are drowning in data. On that day, data felt big.

All things #IBM.
All in one place.


Find tweets, blogs, videos and more IBM voices.

Learn more