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At the Peak of Inflated Expectations, is AR OK?

October 19, 2010
at 11:45 am PST

I am sure you readers are familiar with the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. On October 7 Gartner released the latest rev and here were my key takeaways after reviewing all the dots in depth. 

“The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies features technologies that are the focus of attention in the IT industry because of particularly high levels of hype, or those that may not be broadly acknowledged but which we believe have the potential for significant impact,” said Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner Fellow. 

FIRST I am happy to see 3D flat panel TVs and displays in the 2-5 year mainstream adoption category, even if they were at the peak of inflated expectations portion of the graph. 

“High-impact technologies at the Peak of Inflated Expectations during 2010 include private cloud computing, augmented reality, media tablets (such as the iPad), wireless power, 3D flat-panel TVs and displays, and activity streams, while cloud computing and cloud/Web platforms have tipped over the peak and will soon experience disillusionment among enterprise users,” Ms. Fenn said. 

SECOND I was bummed to see AR tracking in the 5-10 year mainstream adoption category. Anyone who has read this blog previously knows that AR is something I am passionate about. I just see endless use cases for this technology that would definitely affect the way we live, work and play. I thought some of the recent buzz around AR might enable the technology to leap frog a few years and land in the 2-5 year category along with 3D. I mean seriously I have read about a half dozen articles on AR in the past month or so and from what I see everyone reporting was still in the ‘we heart AR’ camp. A few weeks ago I read an article about a couple of recent AR marketing efforts showing strong results. For example: 

Acer and Dabs.com recently used Total Immersion technology in an AR campaign, according to Brand-e.biz. TI director Myles Peyton told the publication that 70% of people who went to the Dabs.com site “prompted by an ad in T3 magazine chose to live the AR experience and of that group, 13% then purchased the project, compared to an industry standard website conversion of around 0.5%.” 

Tissot’s AR campaign also did well, Brand-e.Biz reported. Tissot’s AR app allowed shoppers to see what a watch will look like on their arms using a paper-based version that, when waved in front of a webcam, rendered the watch. In-store sales of its watches rose by 85% on the back of its AR ads, Brand-e.Biz said. 

However the articles I have read have also stressed that to date measuring the sales effectiveness of augmented reality campaigns has been difficult at best. Of course they noted that some campaigns have just wanted the shiny object while others have truly had a clear goal and reason for leveraging AR technology. Hence the perception of ROI is affected if goals and ways to measure against them were not identified up front. When I look at what Skoda launched recently I think they had very clear goals which were to put the Fabia RS in the viewer’s hands, let them experience the excitement of being behind the wheel, and engage them with fun activity. Please note: I think the below campaign is clever but I am not sure how they plan to measure the sales effectiveness?  

Of course once AR becomes a major part of how search engines produce results the ROI story becomes a whole different can of worms. To say AR significantly impacts SEO is an understatement. The idea of being able to instantly refine/fine-tune searches based on data, given at your consent of course, is powerful to any marketer and could be especially beneficial to companies who want to present geo-specific offers. 

According to the above linked article, “Companies will have to start innovating if they are to meet the increasingly complex search criteria applied to every internet user that is monitored by the technology giant.” 

The good news is AR development is being highly encouraged so innovation should continue to thrive. The recent move by Qualcomm to make their AR SDK available as open source will hopefully result in a ton of new developments and experimentation with AR technology. 

“By making the Qualcomm AR SDK available at no charge, we are encouraging all developers to start building innovative applications and services today,” said Jay Wright, Qualcomm, Ddirector of Business Development, in a statement. 

There are many reasons to explore AR as a developer and I hope the above move encourages more and more development. While I couldn’t understand all of the text in the below presentation, still waiting on my AR app that lets me hover over the text in the slide imagery and instantly translates it to English for me, I did get the main themes and messages. I particularly liked the story being told on slide 37. I really do believe that AR will change the way we interact with everything , and I mean everything. 

Of course by now you should know that when I said everything I meant it! My final example of AR technology that is just ‘beyond major’ is …stamps :) The British Royal Mail recently deployed the worlds ‘first’ intelligent stamp, according to the website: 

“These special stamps celebrate the 50th anniversary of the building of British Rail’s last steam locomotive Evening Star Royal Mail. When activated using the junaio augmented reality browser available free for iPhone and Android users, users are able to watch a short video of Bernard Cribbins reciting the poem ‘Night Mail’.”

Cool right? I think so, as I started off saying it was 3D and AR that made me most excited when reviewing the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. Of course there was more to be excited about… 

THIRD speech-to-speech translation in the 5-10 year category is huge but it wasn’t what most caught my attention after AR and 3D, that attention getter actually falls into the more then 10 year category and there are actually two of them all though both are interfaces. The winners are the tangible user interfaces and the computer-brain interface. I believe that a key part of true immersion is going to be the ability to integrate using our digits to control the device/software we are interacting with. A good use of our senses is definitely part of effective immersive reality experiences. If those senses could be detected quicker and at a deeper level all the better to create a seamless immersive experience for the user, and this is where I believe a computer-brain interface could be a big contributer. 

OK I have to cut myself off from the hype cycle list because human augmentation and mobile robots are also eye catchers and this blog is all ready too long. So I will close with a query for you, what new technology are you excited about?

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2 Comments.


  1. Can you plz tell me what is Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.?

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    • Dannette Veale

      A hype cycle is a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies. The term was coined by Gartner.

      A hype cycle in Gartner’s interpretation comprises five phases:
      1.”Technology Trigger” — The first phase of a hype cycle is the “technology trigger” or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.

      2.”Peak of Inflated Expectations” — In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.

      3.”Trough of Disillusionment” — Technologies enter the “trough of disillusionment” because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.

      4.”Slope of Enlightenment” — Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the “slope of enlightenment” and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.

      5.”Plateau of Productivity” — A technology reaches the “plateau of productivity” as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.

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