4D Printing, Smart Dust and Digital Twins: Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

Gartner has revealed its 2017 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.

The highly-regarded annual report is seen by many professionals as an important indicator of which emerging technologies their organisations should invest in or explore.

Based on the US analyst’s insight into more than 2,000 technologies, the Hype Cycle charts how it sees potentially game-changing technologies traversing the bumpy road from ‘Innovation Trigger’ to ‘Plateau of Productivity’.

This year, Gartner has identified three ‘megatrends’ that it believes businesses must embrace “survive and thrive in the digital economy over the next five to 10 years.”

5G Debut

Among the technologies making their debut in the report this year is 5G, although projecting that mainstream adoption won’t occur until between five and 10 years from now may irk many mobile networks aggressively working towards a two- to three-year timeline.

Blockchain has progressed through this year’s cycle, from nearing the so-called ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ in 2016 to nudging the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ today. It too won’t be considered a mainstream technology until 2022 at the earliest, predicts Gartner.

Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2017

Image: Gartner

Virtual Reality Hype Cycle

Despite major launches in 2016, Virtual Reality remains largely static at the start of its ‘Slope of Enlightenment’. Nevertheless, its outlook to the so-called ‘Plateau of Productivity’ has now improved to between two and five years.

Other new entries into Gartner’s hit parade include Edge Computing, Artificial General Intelligence, and Digital Twin technologies, all of which join the ‘Innovation Trigger’ curve climb.


Gartner groups the emerging technologies it identified into three megatrend groups:

  • Artificial intelligence everywhere – covering everything from Deep Learning, Artificial General Intelligence and Cognitive Computing to Smart Dust and Autonomous Vehicles
  • Transparently immersive experiences – contextual, human-centric computing which includes Augmented and Virtual Reality, Human Augmentation, Volumetric Displays and 4D Printing
  • Digital platforms – it’s all about the platform, so 5G, Blockchain, Serverless PaaS and (thankfully) Software-Defined Security all feature here.

Commenting on the report, Mike J. Walker, research director at Gartner, said: “Enterprise architects who are focused on technology innovation must evaluate these high-level trends and the featured technologies, as well as the potential impact on their businesses.”

“These megatrends illustrate that the more organizations are able to make technology an integral part of employees’, partners’ and customers’ experiences, the more they will be able to connect their ecosystems to platforms in new and dynamic ways,” he continued.