The Gartner hype cycle represents the growth, implementation, and social applications of emerging technology. This graph was developed by Gartner, an IT firm, and represents 5 stages of technological advancement: technology trigger, peak of inflated expectation, trough of disillusionment, slope of enlightenment, and plateau of productivity. Technologies can be placed along the graph, allowing views of where they are in the cycle and what we can expect in their growth and viability.
In a recent article, Gartner published their results for emerging trends in 2018. An excellent example of a technology that has a very real possibility of implementation over the next decade is the autonomous flying vehicle. Mostly, companies will use these vehicles to carry packages, food, and medical supplies to consumers. In some ways, flying has fewer barriers than autonomous ground vehicles that are limited because of interaction with unreliable human drivers. In addition to this, Gartner notes trends in the following areas:
AI is inspiring a “maker community” of builders, scientists, and architects to create solutions for vexing challenges. Cloud computing and open source platforms are making AI increasingly available to “the masses.” Expectations include smart robots that will work alongside or even replace humans doing low-skill tasks. Autonomous vehicles that can drive without assistance will also emerge in the next decade.
Dynamic ecosystems support new technologies, providing security and reliability to new systems. For example, blockchain might greatly improve data security by making platforms more resilient and transparent. Digital twins, that constantly learn and update themselves, are another trend in this area. Developers can use digital twins to optimize machines and project the performance of physical objects in the real world.
Promising the beginning of the “trans-human” age, biohacking will test ethical limits. One example is the development of biochips that doctors can implant in patients. These biochips can diagnose illness, such as cancer, before there are any symptoms. Artificial skin and muscle is also likely to be realized over the next decade. With this, engineers can make robots more sensitive to pressure, improving task efficiency.
Smart Workspaces will employ items such as electronic whiteboards that will save notes from meetings, sensors to locate employees and deliver information, and supply management platforms that track and directly order everything from pens to laptops. At home, these immersive experiences will include linked devices and sensors that can learn about individual humans and houses.
Cloud computing provides enormous growth opportunities for quantum computing, for example, which can run dramatically faster than contemporary computers. They could have a dramatic effect on optimization and machine learning. Another possibility is neuromorphic hardware that uses less power and has more power than current systems.
Most of these areas are still climbing the innovation trigger, though some have peaked and even begun to slide down toward the trough of disillusionment. None have yet reached the plateau of productivity and all are anywhere from two to over 10 years away from implementation. Still, it is intriguing to see what is on the horizon. Are we on our way to becoming trans-human, unbothered by flying autonomous vehicles and served by smart robots? As the graph shows, only time will tell.