By Mark Dexter
28th August 2013

The 2013 edition of Gartner's long-running Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies focuses on "the evolving relationship between humans and machines.

Gartner has chosen to feature the relationship between humans and machines due to the increased hype around smart machines, cognitive computing and the Internet of Things. Analysts believe that the relationship is being redefined through emerging technologies, narrowing the divide between humans and machines.

The three main trends are:

  1. Augmenting humans with technology

Companies can improve workers' performance or the level of customer service using augmentation devices such as wearable computers. Gartner says: "Organizations 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."

  1. Machines replacing humans

Robots have been used on the factory floor for decades but improvements in technology mean there is still plenty of scope for automating both physical and mental procedures. Gartner says: "Organizations should look to some of these representative technologies for sources of innovation on how machines can take over human tasks: volumetric and holographic displays, autonomous vehicles, mobile robots and virtual assistants."

  1. Humans and machines working alongside each other

Gartner says: "The main benefits of having machines working alongside humans are the ability to access the best of both worlds (that is, productivity and speed from machines, emotional intelligence and the ability to handle the unknown from humans). Technologies that represent and support this trend include autonomous vehicles, mobile robots, natural language question and answering, and virtual assistants." One example is IBM's Watson working alongside doctors and providing natural-language question answering (NLQA).

Read more at the Gartner newsroom.

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