The economy isn't the only thing that goes through cycles. Hype, believe it or not, is cyclical, too, according to the analysts at Gartner, who today released their 2010 Hype Cycle report. Technologies closing in on the "Peak of Inflated Expectations" are the 4G wireless standard and 3D flat panel TVs.
Close behind those technologies on the way to the pinnacle of hype are wireless power, media tablets like the iPad, augmented reality, private cloud computing and Internet TV.
Gartner's hype cycle follows five stages. During the "trigger phase" a technology is introduced and hype begins to build around it. Some technologies identified by Gartner at the nascent stages of their hype potential are human augmentation and computer-brain interfaces.
As a technology climbs the hype slope, it reaches the Peak of Inflated Expectations. It's about that time that everyone starts to realize what the technology can really do compared to what the hype promised it could do.
After the hype peaks about a technology, it starts sliding down a slippery slope into the "Trough of Disillusionment." Technologies currently on this slope include cloud computing, gesture recognition, microblogging and, surprisingly, e-book readers. Mired in the trough itself are broadband over power lines, virtual assistants, public virtual worlds and consumer-generated media.
There's no need to be sad for these once much hyped technologies--except for broadband over power lines, which Gartner predicts will be obsolete before having an opportunity to escape from its nadir. There is life for them beyond the trough. There's the "Slope of Enlightenment," where they're rediscovered, in a way. Technologies on this slope include idea management, biometric authentication, Internet micropayment systems and interactive TV.
Where does the Slope of Enlightenment lead? To the Plateau of Productivity and, presumably, a blissful life without hype. Gartner shows only one technology reaching that plateau at the moment: pen-centric tablet PCs, which, by the way, it predicts will be in mainstream adoption in less than two years.