The Technology Hype Cycle: Is Virtual and Augmented Reality Just Hype?

When we look at how virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are affecting our world, we need to consider the technology hype cycle. Tech waves pass through various peaks and troughs before they reach mass consumer adoption.
IT research firm Gartner once proposed what it called the Gartner Hype Cycle, a representation of how expectations about transformative technologies will appear upon release. The Gartner Hype Cycle can help predict how technology will adapt (or not adapt) over time. The internet (with the dot-com collapse) and mobile before 2007 both experienced similar (if not quite similar) market curves.

  1. Initially, the innovation operator initiates interest in new technology, triggered by early proof of concepts and media interest.

2. Next is the height of inflated expectations.
Buoyed by early action and media hype, companies are leaping with higher expectations than technology can achieve thus far.

3. What follows is a basin of disappointment, as interest in technology begins to subside as applications of the technology fail to live up to the lofty expectations set by the initial innovation and media hype operator.
The Disappointment Basin is a challenging space for technology, and some of the technologies in this space may run out, never living up to their initial promise.

4. Those technologies that can withstand the storm of the basin of disappointment reach the slope of enlightenment as second and third generation products begin to emerge and the technology and its uses are better understood.
Mainstream adoption begins to take off, often paying off for early adopters who are able to see their way through rock bottom with their ideas and proper executions.
5. Finally, we reach a productivity plateau, where mass adoption really begins, and companies that are able to weather the stormy waters of the hype cycle can see the early adoption payoff.
Locating VR and AR in this course can be helpful in making your decisions about how to approach these technologies. Does it make sense for your business to jump into virtual reality and augmented reality technologies now? Or is things just not ready for prime time, and should you put it off for a few more years?
Gartner claims that virtual reality is just leaving the basin of disappointment and heading toward the cliff of enlightenment at the end of 2017, with a mass adoption payoff in two to five years. Augmented reality, on the other hand, is listed by Gartner as currently sinking into a basin of disappointment, putting mass adoption of augmented reality into a more conservative five to ten year period.
Although the Disappointment Basin seems like an ominous place for the existence of augmented reality, it is a necessary stage for the technology to pass. Innovative technology, before it reaches the hands of consumers, needs to go through the mill of identity creation and determination of its place in the world. Manufacturers need to know what problems VR and AR solve well and what problems these technologies do not. This often requires many trials and failures to discover.
Augmented reality as a mass consumer device in adolescence. Manufacturers and developers need time to figure out what form factor it should be in, what problems it can solve, and how it can best solve them. Rushing to bring a technology to market before these questions are answered often causes more problems than it solves, something that manufacturers of any emerging technology, including virtual and augmented reality, should be wary of.

When the use of a technology becomes contactless and virtually invisible to the end user, when using that technology becomes second nature like starting your web browser, checking your email on your mobile device, or texting a friend, that’s when the technology has arrived Already adopt the current. Neither of the two technologies had yet reached this level of ubiquitous presence, but both were looking forward to making their strides. The long run of augmented reality and augmented reality holds the same hope for waves of technology as the personal computer and the internet.
Now is the time to take action on these technologies, whether it’s simply researching what they can do for you, diving into buying a device for your own consumption, or even starting to create content for virtual and augmented reality.