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GO INSIDE THE INVENTIVE MIND
Follow along as we share the passion and anecdotes of IBMers who helped send people to the moon, hatched trillions of barcodes, launched the computer industry and then even taught one to play Jeopardy! They’re just some of the innovations we’ve been working on to build a smarter planet.
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There was once an entire world invisible not only to the human eye, but also to most microscopes. That is, until the invention of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer. This innovation created a computer-aided instrument that could scan surfaces at the atomic level and see things invisible to the naked eye (and most other microscopes) like viruses or a sequence of your DNA.
If you think moving a single grain of salt would be hard, imagine moving something 100 million times smaller than that—an atom. In 1989, Don Eigler became the first person to ever to do just that. Then he spelled out IBM with atoms, making the world’s tiniest IBM logo.
World’s Smallest Movie ➝
Patent no. 2431242, 2012.
Electronic learning synapses.
In fish and in humans, brains learn by trial and error. And now we can add a new species to Darwin’s list: the computer. This algorithm-and-circuit innovation efficiently mimics the way the mind functions, learns and evolves over time. And could help us understand the world in ways we can’t yet begin to comprehend.
Patent no. 8150611. 2012.
Predictive traffic analysis.
By combining real-time traffic data with predictive route analysis, this patented GPS innovation can now steer you away from traffic trouble spots before they develop, as well as more accurately estimate your drive time. And that’s good, because who really likes coming home to a cold, lonely supper anyway?
Patent No. 8188907. 2012.
Aircraft collision avoidance system.
500 mph. 35,000 feet above sea level. Zero room for error. This patented innovation takes an aircraft’s position information, combines it with the position information of all the other aircraft in the area and alerts pilots if they need to be someplace else. Ding—you are now safe to move around the world.
Patent No. 8107234, 2012.
Self-cooling data centers
Today the best computer is the fastest. But computation generates heat. And very soon it will cost more to cool a data center than to build it. Thanks to this patented innovation, liquid is used to efficiently direct heat away from the components that waste the most energy. And that’s very cool for the environment.
Patent No. 6236968. 2001.
Sleep prevention car system
Patent for the design of an AI-based “artificial passenger” that helps keep a driver alert with conversation, jokes, stories. When the system detects drowsiness from vocal or visual cues, it could switch topics or even spray the driver with cold water—a time-tested backup to “Wake up!”
Patent No. 8361495. 2013.
This patented polymer gives doctors a new way to treat antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as MRSA. Each 1,000 times smaller than a grain of sand, these ninja nanostructures can quickly target and destroy infected cells. Suddenly, superbugs have a new superenemy.