Our research sits at the intersection of qualitative and quantitative forecasts. Inspiration about which emerging technologies are on the horizon is drawn from:
- Research by science and technology publications (including Scientific American, Popular Science)
- Gadget blogs (The Verge, Engadget Alt)
- Techno-cultural publications (WIRED US/UK, EDGE).
These publications allow us to form an overview of which individual technologies are being developed and released.
These lists are then structured by areas of research and grouped by similarity (the columns in the visualization). Distinguishing individual technologies is what permits the relative scaling of the circles, which is ultimately based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis. Below is a list of variables taken in consideration to assess the importance and estimate timeline:
- Amount of companies working on a similar set of technologies.
- Current market size.
- Amount of publications discussing a certain area of research.
- Reliance on Moore’s Law (and the general indicators of accelerating change): a large number of technologies can only come to fruition if the hardware and connectivity groundwork is already in place.
- Relative dependencies (the more preceding technologies are being worked on, the larger the likelihood of an individual tech has to become mainstream.)
- Influence of large-scale social and technological trends.
The visualization is then “hand-designed” in Adobe Illustrator, as we’ve not yet found any other suitable tools that offer the flexibility needed to assist in producing the imagery.
Bear in mind that all speculation is subjective. While we attempt to embed a degree of data in the analysis, forecasting oftentimes comes down to “knowing it when you see it”.
tl;dr: Forecasting isn’t an exact science.