No industry has more hype attached to it than tech. Sure, the entertainment industry is known as hype-a-palooza, but they rely on technology to both create and hype their products, so we’ll stick with tech as the most hyped vertical on the planet.

How does someone figure out what’s really worth it, and what’s the latest shiny object that’s really just a tin can?

Great minds spend great big chunks of time and money thinking about this very question. Gartner releases an annual Hype Cycle report that looks at tech trends and predicts what their adoption and long tail might be.

Their predictions for 2012 are in the chart below. You can see that most of where we operate here at Shockoe is already on the Slope of Enlightenment.

Here are our Three Tech Trends of Truth that rise above the hype-noise:

#1: Tech that connects emotionally

A great example of this is apps that deal with food. Our own iYummy app takes advantage of this by letting users share their favorite food across their entire social sphere. Angry Birds is another app that uses emotion – it lets users kill mustachioed pigs to blow off some steam. Instagram has an emotional component, too, in that images can have a significant emotional impact. Technology is a human tool, and humans are emotional creatures. The tech that touches human emotion will trend … forever.

#2: Education 2.0

The tech that helps students self-direct learning is coming on strong and will continue to do so. We’re educators here at Shockoe, and we know from our experience teaching mobile development that learning face-to-face is the best way to acquire some skill-sets. However, there is plenty of room for self-directed education in primary, secondary and university programs, and that idea is starting to gain traction. Legendary tech investor Vinod Khosla posted some of his thoughts on this on Techcrunch last month. A favorite quote:

according to research by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, 60 percent of the top-selling iPhone apps on the education store are made for toddlers and preschoolers. Do we expect these children to relinquish and forget their app- and game-centered development after they get to first grade? This is completely unreasonable! And for me it is easy to envision how we can make education more engaging with these approaches, hence enhancing learning at all levels be it kindergarten or medical school.

#3: Near Field Communication will change money forever

We talked about this two weeks ago in our post on mobile trends. Mobile payment tech turned Africa into a mobile-payments case study, spring-boarding off the M-Pesa launch in 2007 by wireless provider Safaricom. Now a number of banks in the US and Europe are giving NFC-enabled mobile payments and banking a test drive. The early adopters among banks will be the winners in this race. Those in late will become the also-rans, losing increasingly-mobile customers in all geographic areas to the more mobile-friendly financial institutions.

What tech trends are you watching this year? Tell us on our facebook page, or shoot us a tweet.