Smart machines, cognitive computing and the "internet of things" all feature highly in Gartner's latest Hype Cycle for 2013, the analyst group's long-range examination of emerging technologies.
Innovative emerging technologies highlighted by Gartner include "smart dust", brain-computer interfacing, autonomous (self driving) vehicles, affective computing and prescriptive analytics.
However, not all of these technologies will be able to overcome the "peak of inflated expectations" or emerge from the subsequent "trough of disillusionment" to reach the "plateau of productivity" - Gartner-speak for everyday use.
The overall message from Gartner is of a more intricate relationship between humans and machines that will be wrought by the emerging technologies highlighted by the analyst group.
This includes machines and/or technology either replacing humans in many cases or augmenting human support. The ability to improve productivity, sell better or serve customer better will increase significantly.
"Organisations interested in these technologies should look to bioacoustic sensing, quantified self, 3D bioprinting, brain-computer interface, human augmentation, speech-to-speech translation, neurobusiness, wearable user interfaces, augmented reality and gesture control," claims Gartner.
Bioacoustics is the automated sensing of environments, while "quantified self" includes technologies that enable people to have a better understanding of themselves, such as wearable health-tracking gadgets. Holographic displays and mobile robots, meanwhile, could replace reception staff and staff whose role is to direct people.
Greater use of machines for roles traditionally performed by humans will therefore require machines that can interpret human social cues and respond accordingly.
"MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] has also been working on Kismet, a robot that senses social cues from visual and auditory sensors, and responds with facial expressions that demonstrate understanding. These types of technology are very important in allowing humans and machines to work together," claims Gartner.
Current technologies that have, or are just about to, reach the fabled "plateau of productivity" include predictive analytics, location intelligence and in-memory analytics.
These will be closely followed by speech recognition, biometric authentication, gesture control and enterprise 3D printing.
According to Gartner, cloud computing has yet to reach the "trough of disillusionment" - despite evidence of its widespread adoption.
The Gartner hype cycle represents the five stages of new technology adoption, from innovation, all the way up to a "peak of inflated expectations", down to a "trough of disillusionment", before the technology starts to become genuinely useful as people and companies work out how best to use it, with a "slope of enlightenment" and, finally, "plateau of productivity".
Not all technologies highlighted by Gartner make it there, with many becoming obsolete before they reach the plateau.