In the next five years the entry into the Internet will change in significant ways according to forecasts of IBM research - - whereby the researchers of the computer giant expect a lot from voice control. Surfing the Internet will be possible with the voice only and therefore using hands will become obsolete. Furthermore both visual contact as well as keyboards will be unnecessary.

The new technology will trigger a process change and influence the way how people deal with information and interact with e-commerce Websites. The management tool will then be the language and not anymore the text.

That’s all already feasible, since the necessary technology is available and the time is ripe for it, said IBM. In countries such as India, where the spoken word in education, in government circles and in the culture have a greater importance than the written word, the "talk" with the Internet outshines already all other communication interfaces.

The same happens with mobile phones that by now outdo the PC application. The use of "voice sites' in the future will enable even people without access to a computer or Internet as well as those who neither know how to read nor write, to benefit from the many advantages and conveniences of the Internet.

"Surfing with the voice" could leverage the voice automation. And through the combination of these technologies with biometric procedures, self-service transactions on the net could for instance increase significantly regarding security aspects. Experts believe that language will gain in importance as an input medium in the future and expect voice control and touch screens soon to be more important than keyboard and mouse. This is definitely not far-fetched, taking into consideration that speech recognition systems are already very reliable and already used successfully in modern cars.

A reduction of network complexity and a democratization of the Internet access will be reached by personalized, adaptive and familiar electronic companions, which will handle the first steps of the annoying identification of relevant information through machine-to-machine communication with each instance in the Internet.

It is also expected that intelligent assistants will change the shopping world. The retail shopping experience will get a dramatic impetus through the symbiotic combination of new technology and a new generation of mobile devices. Fitting rooms, for example, will soon be equipped with digital shopping assistants - touch screens and voice-operated kiosks will in addition provide customers with the opportunity to choose more clothing and accessories that complement the already chosen wardrobe.

The last mile in retail will change completely in a few years. The traditional shop no longer needs to be part of the distribution network, as it is expected that consumers want to carry away only some of their very specific purchases by then. What goes beyond would then be brought directly to their home. Instead of a far drive forgetting a large variety of assortment, they will go to a showroom, where the whole range is presented - real or virtual, says an IBM expert of technology and innovation trends.

So, not all items of the store need to be stocked anymore. It is sufficient to be able to show everything. Consequently, no longer the product is in the foreground, but the service. "Let's take dresses as an example. It’s not necessary to have all sizes in all colours in the shop, as it can be tried on in an electronic dressing room in all variants to make a purchase decision. And the best is - after the shopping trip back at home, the package is already waiting for you. Things can’t get anymore convenient for shopper, can it?

By Daniela La Marca