Digging into Kurzweil's 'S-curves' a bit more I came across his lifecycle of a technology (or invention). Kurzweil noted back in 2004 that the pace of innovation is doubling every decade and so he said that inventions should be aimed at the world of the future, not the world that exists when your R & D project is launched, since so many contexts change so rapidly. So if technologies follow an S-curve over time (slow, then rapid adoption and devlopment, before plateauing into maturity), in order to time an invention properly you need to be aware of the entire lifecycle.
Kurzweil describes 7 key stages in the evolution of a technology (and I'm paraphrasing here):
Precusor: the enabling factors for the new technology are in place (and visionaries may even be able to describe its goals or its operation), but it has yet to become a reality.
Invention: for which determination and timing are often key
Development: the refining of the invention, which has likely entered the world as 'an ungainly and impractical device'
Maturity: this stage often comprises the bulk of a technology’s life span. It has become an integral part of everyday life and probably seems as though it will never be replaced
False Pretenders: assaults on the now established technology from potentially disruptive newcomers that claim to be in a position to replace it, and indeed might be better in some ways, but are invariably lacking in salient, critical features. The failure of the newcomer(s) only leads to a stronger conviction that the existing technology will survive indefinitely
Obsolesence: further newcomers master the absent qualities, pushing the older technology into obsolesence
Antiquity: The final resting place
Kurzweil says that in order to be successful, an invention needs to move through each phase (pre-cursor, invention, development and maturity), which reminds me of the Schumpeter definition of the process of technological change which is divided into three key stages: Invention (ideas); Innovation ('the development of new ideas into marketable products and processes' or in other words commercialisation); Diffusion (scaling or adoption). There are of-course challenges at each of these stages which are often forgotten about but worth considering at an organisational level, since we need to be good at all three of them.