• Flying vehicles are poised for innovation while disillusionment is setting in on autonomous cars. The 2019 Gartner Hype Cycle has identified 29 technologies set to have a major impact on society, business, and culture in the next decade. Sensing and mobility technologies dominated the trends this year as did AI and its related technologies.

    We’re taking a look at 10 of the most hyped technologies of 2019. Some are just gaining momentum as of this year while others are moving into disillusionment. For some there’s the promise of practical, real world use cases. But others may fade out before they get there.

    Here’s a breakdown of the five stages of the Gartner Hype Cycle:

    Innovation Trigger: A new technology has started gaining attention outside of academic and research circles but has yet to find a commercial footing.

    Peak of Inflated Expectations: Essentially the peak of hype and excitement. This is when early adopters jump on board as the first success stories around a technology emerge.

    Trough of Disillusionment: The honeymoon phase is over. Failed use cases emerge and risk-adverse companies begin to steer clear of a technology.

    Slope of Enlightenment: Now that disillusionment has set in, a technology starts to find its real footing. There are fewer novel applications of a technology and more iterations on proven use cases.

    Plateau of Productivity: The technology goes mainstream and its value and relevance to the market is clear and taking off.

  • 3D Sensing Cameras

    (Sliding into the Trough)

    3D sensing cameras are already allowing smartphone owners to turn themselves into 3D emojis or animated characters. But its make or break time to determine if the technology will have a major impact in areas such as automotive, facial recognition, or gesture sensing or be a passing novelty for the Snapchat and TikTok crowd.

    There is still hope however. Tractica is predicting the market for 3D imaging sensors and hardware subsystems to grow to $57.9 billion by 2025, driven primarily by automotive and mobile applications.

    The market has also seen products emerge for a wider array of applications. The BELICE (shown above) from 3D sensor company ams AG has been targeted at IoT and robotics applications in addition to mobile.

    (Image source: ams AG)

  • 5G

    (At the Peak)

    In 2018 we saw the first deployments of 5G for home and commercial use. Major telecomm and device companies have been preparing for inevitable full rollout of 5G and have been releasing and planning products around it. This is the time, according to Gartner, when early adopters will jump onto the 5G hype train. It remains to be seen however where 5G will find itself having the biggest impact. Companies like AR glasses maker ThirdEye Gen are implementing 5G-ready processors into their products. The University of Warwick in Europe also announced it is now conducting formal research into 5G applications for autonomous and connected vehicles.

    (Image source: WMG at the University of Warwick)

  • AR Cloud

    (On the Rise)

    The Augmented Reality Cloud (AR Cloud) is predicted to gather momentum in the next five to 10 years. The term, coined by AR entrepreneur and investor Ori Inbar, refers to “a persistent 3D digital copy of the real world to enable sharing of AR experiences across multiple users and devices.” The concept essentially envisions a near future where everything around us from roads, to storefronts, and perhaps even other people will have some sort of AR functionality that will allow us to gather information in the real world as easily as we can gather information online with search engines. There is already a healthy ecosystem of augmented reality hardware and software tools for developers such as Apple’s ARKit (shown above).

    (Image source: Apple)

  • Edge AI

    (At the Peak)

    Edge AI has built up a lot of momentum in 2019 as more chipmakers unveiled new and faster hardware aimed at enabling AI computing to be done directly on devices rather than via the cloud. The iPhone 11 boasts what Apple is calling its most powerful smartphone chip ever for AI processing. Google and Qualcomm both announced purpose-built chips for AI inferencing this year. And more and more companies are looking at edge-based AI to play a major role in the expansion of the IoT. The maker community has even found its first edge AI solution thanks to the Jetson Nano (shown above) released by Nvidia this year.

    (Image source: Nvidia)

  • Emotion AI

    (On the Rise)

    Artificial intelligence that can exhibit real emotion is still the stuff of science fiction, but AI that can recognize emotion is already here. Companies like Affectiva are developing emotion AI for a number of applications ranging from retail and entertainment to automotive. In the next five to 10 years we may be seeing cars on the roads capable of recognizing how their driver and passengers are feeling and responding accordingly.

    (Image source: Affectiva)

  • Flying Autonomous Vehicles

    (On the Rise)

    Science fiction promised us we’d be living in a future of flying cars by now. So why shouldn’t we develop flying cars along side autonomous ones? Though Gartner predicts any true innovative break in flying cars is still over a decade away, companie such as Kitty Hawk are already actively working to bring flying autonomous vehicles to customers for both public and private use.

    (Image source: Kitty Hawk)

  • Level 4 Autonomous Vehicles

    (Sliding Into the Trough)

    While Level 5 autonomous cars are just beginning to gather hype, the honeymoon is ending for Level 4 (no human intervention needed, but a steering wheel is still present). Level 4 autonomy hasn’t reached any large scale commercial deployment, but Gartner says the technology has reached the point where failed use cases will begin to emerge. The silver lining however is that this means the technology is approaching its “Slope of Enlightenment,” where iterations on established use cases will emerge. This year TuSimple, a maker of technology for creating autonomous trucks, announced partnerships with UPS and the USPS to test autonomous trucks for shipping and hauling mail freight in the US.

    (Image source: TuSimple)

  • Level 5 Autonomous Vehicles

    (At the Peak)

    The march toward full autonomous vehicles is continuing, albeit at a slower pace than companies and analysts once predicted. While we may be decades out from seeing Level 5 vehicles (no steering wheel and no human intervention required) deployed widely on the road, such vehicles are being developed on testing tracks and facilities. We may not get there as soon as some have hoped, but continued advances in sensors, simulation, and safety technologies are keeping things on track.

    (Image source: Julien Tromeur from Pixabay)

  • Light Cargo Delivery Drones

    (On the Rise)

    New sensor technologies and tracking technologies such as SLAM are making wheeled and flying drones better able to navigate obstacles and environments all of the time. Amazon is perhaps the most notable company experimenting with drone delivery. The company claims it is only months away from launching pilot programs for drone delivery.

    (Image source: Amazon)

  • Nanoscale 3D Printing

    (On the Rise)

    Though more than out 10 years from reaching its plateau of productivity, 3D printing at the nanoscale promises to create not only stronger structures, but also to potentially facilitate the development of new and interesting materials. Institutions such as ORNL and LLNL have been actively conducting research into new methods for 3D printing at the nanoscale.

    (Image source: ORNL)