x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Gartner warns breakthrough technologies like 3D printing and wearables could be some way off

Wearable technology and 3D printing at the top of the Hype Cycle, according to Gartner.

3D scanners and enterprise 3D printers are now in a phase called the “slope of enlightenment”, according to Gartner. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP
3D scanners and enterprise 3D printers are now in a phase called the “slope of enlightenment”, according to Gartner. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP

If the technology sages are to be believed, in the near future we will all be wearing glasses that allow us to read text messages, travel in driverless cars, or alternatively, on bicycles made at home with parts that we printed ourselves.

Not so fast, according to the technology analysts and all-round spoilsport Gartner, which has warned not only that such technologies might not live up to users’ enormous expectations, but also that they might be many years away from entering the mainstream.

The research company’s newly released Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report for this year suggests that exciting technologies such as wearable user interfaces, consumer 3D printing and autonomous vehicles are at a stage it has called the “peak of inflated expectations”.

Such technologies are five to 10 years away from achieving a “plateau of productivity” and entering into the mainstream, according to Gartner.

As enterprises embark on the journey to becoming digital businesses, they will leverage technologies that today are considered to be “emerging”, said Hung LeHong, Gartner’s vice president.

“Understanding where your enterprise is on this journey and where you need to go will not only determine the amount of change expected for your enterprise, but also map out which combination of technologies support your progression,” he said.

The “peak of inflated expectations” phase – also currently occupied by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Speech to Speech Translation, teased by Skype in May – is rapidly followed by the “trough of disillusionment”, as once-exciting technologies fail to live up to users’ expectations and fall by the wayside.

Machine-to-machine communication services, which, for instance, let your fridge tell a parts manufacturer that it is not working properly, big data, and mobile health monitoring were all scrabbling about in the trough, Gartner has said.

The research company noted that while some technologies would stumble off towards the scrapheap, there were some that would manage to claw their way back out of the trough of disillusionment, before moving on to the “slope of enlightenment”, a phase occupied by 3D scanners and enterprise 3D printers.

Speech-recognition technology, such as that used in Apple’s Siri, has achieved such enlightenment and proceeded to the “plateau of productivity” and entered the mainstream, according to Gartner.


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