Today’s PCs and smartphones can do a lot — from telling you the weather in Zimbabwe in milliseconds, to buying your morning coffee. But ask them to show you what a piece of fabric feels like, or to detect the odor of a great-smelling soup, and they’re lost.

That will change in the next five years, says IBM. Computers at that time will be much more aware of the world around them, and be able to understand it. The company’s annual “5 in 5″ list, in which IBM predicts the five trends in computing that will arrive in five years’ time, reads exactly like a list of the five human senses — predicting computers with sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

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