Yes, Meal Kits, Pokémon, and Athleisure Are All Overhyped Right Now

September 15, 2016, 3:00 PM UTC
Pokemon Go Launches In Hong Kong
HONG KONG - JULY 26: People play the Pokemon Go game at a park at Tin Shui Wai on July 26, 2016 in Hong Kong. "Pokemon Go," which has been a smash-hit across the globe was launched in Hong Kong on 25th July although shares in Nintendo Co tumbled on Monday after the company said the mobile game would not be a strong earnings driver. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
Lam Yik Fei — Getty Images

The Gartner Hype Cycle has become a shorthand in the tech world to describe technologies’ path to adoption. It started in the 90s, after a Gartner analyst noticed tech crazes following the same predictable pattern, says Mike Walker, a research director at the firm. Today, the firm uses the metric to track trends in more than 100 tech and innovation fields.

For example, the firm will look at a concept like machine learning (now at peak hype, Walker says, but could still change the tech landscape if combined with other concepts like big data), and place it on the familiar Silicon Valley roller coaster: First come breathless reports and inflated expectations, which are followed by a trough of sorrow, when reality sets in, and the slope of enlightenment, where the kinks are worked out. Finally there’s the more stable plateau of productivity, where an idea at last comes into its own and often makes reliable money.

While the firm’s eponymous cycle deals with plenty of heady intellectual concepts, we thought there were a few other ideas that could fit well onto the measurement. Here, with apologies to Gartner, we’ve adapted its chart for trends a little further afield.


A version of this article appears in the September 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Trend Tracking.”

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