Gartner has estimated that by 2016 consumers will spend 12% of their disposable household income on digital technology products and services - which equates to $2.7 trillion.
Gartner's Hype Cycle for Consumer Devices, 2013 has identified three technologies that will have a transformational business impact during the next 10 years. These are multitouch displays, tablets and 3D printing.
Gartner predicts that multitouch displays will have a transformational business impact in less than two years.
Meike Escherich, Gartner principal research analyst, said: "The success of multitouch displays on smartphones and tablets is rapidly advancing the adoption of multitouch technology on PCs, displays and other consumer electronics," said Escherich. "Multitouch displays are being designed for a variety of devices from in-car consoles to refrigerator doors and kiosks."
Larger format multitouch displays with screen sizes greater than 20 inches are useful in education as digital whiteboards and for interactive learning among small groups of students. In the home, multitouch displays on PCs and tablets can be used to edit and arrange photos, play games, make music and control other electronics. At home they could also be incorporated into the front panels of appliances as controllers or message boards. In three to five years, PCs and ultramobile devices with multitouch capabilities are likely to grow from a negligible percentage of shipments to the majority, according to the report.
The second consumer device technology that will have a transformational business effect within the next two years is the tablet.
"This device category has disrupted the consumer PC market, with the greatest impact on the notebook segment," said Escherich. "We see that in both mature and emerging geographies many consumers transfer to tablets and leave their traditional PCs to age-out without replacing them. Once in use, tablets assume a central role in handling consumer consumption tasks, with users finding they spend less and less time on PCs."
Consumer 3D printing will have a transformational business impact within five to 10 years.
3D fabricating technologies have been available for more than 20 years - for product prototyping and short-run parts manufacturing. However, within the past five years the technology has advanced to enable the creation of one-off and customised pieces on devices costing less than $1,000.
Gartner predicts that by 2015, seven of the 50 largest multinational retailers will sell 3D printers through their physical and online stores.
"Consumer 3D printing is a classic example of how use of an established technology -- in this case, additive manufacturing -- transitions over time from one that is prohibitively expensive for all but manufacturing organisations, to one that has pricing within the grasp of consumers," said Escherich. "The hype in the general press, and stories about manufacturing guns and other weapons with 3D printers, has heightened consumer awareness of the technology."
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