OPINION

The Tech Industry 2021 Product of the Year

Well, this is my last column for 2021 and it has been one heck of a year. We thought 2020 was challenging. But I think we could argue that on many fronts this year was not exactly a breath of fresh air — and we still have more than a week remaining for the world to surprise us.

Typically, at the end of the year, I try to pick a product that impressed me the most or one I found that I could not live without, like my Ooler bed heater/cooler that helps me sleep.

This year, however, I am going to pick the product that either most mitigated the problems we have or the one that entered the market and drove a technology wave.

Let’s look at the two contenders.

Contender One: Omniverse and Earth 2 by Nvidia

On the positive side, we have the birth of the metaverse, a place where we can do simulations and where Nvidia has brought forth Omniverse, the quintessential toolkit for building the metaverse. Now, at this time, the metaverse is being overhyped because it is not ready for widespread use yet. It is mostly for emulation and simulation of the real world.

But the bigger thing that Nvidia announced this year was the creation of Earth 2, a full metaverse simulation of Earth that could be used to better determine what will be the most effective way to mitigate climate change. Will it be carbon capture, changing from gas to electric-powered transport, shifting to alternative synthetic meats from beef, or large-scale weather control which is being attempted in attempted in China?

Using Earth 2 to simulate planetary impact, we could better determine which combination of practices will have the greatest impact on protecting us from the climate damage we have been contributing to for decades, and it should also provide far earlier warnings of catastrophic weather events like tornados and even earthquakes.

In addition, Earth 2 should help drive vastly different building regulations so that our structures can better withstand nature’s wrath. It still bothers me that the old Disney/Monsanto House of the Future that was built in the 1950s and never replicated was far better designed for today’s adverse weather conditions than any modern design currently in production (these by Blu Homes do come close). Perhaps using Earth 2 to highlight what can happen if we do not build responsibly for the future can convince us to take a more prudent path.

My hope is that this will drive us to build fire-resistant structures in fire areas, better flood-resistant structures in flood areas, and do a better job designing earthquake-resistant buildings in areas near fault lines. Earth 2 has the potential to not only mitigate climate change, but also help us adapt to it so that weather events do not do as much damage in the future as they have done this year.

Contender Two: BlackBerry AtHoc

Between Covid and weather-related disasters, there has never been a greater need to keep track of the health and safety of employees than there is today. Businesses worldwide are experiencing severe staffing shortage issues which means each employee is far more critical to operations than they once were. This is on top of the natural desire to just take care of our people.

BlackBerry AtHoc provides a mechanism for management to notify and track employees at risk and provide aid as needed to those employees to keep them safe.

This tool could be applied both to commercial and governmental facilities, like schools, to address risks arising from demonstrations or school shootings to better coordinate protection efforts.

It is my belief that every company should be using a product like AtHoc in these challenging times, both to assure their workforce and because it is the right thing to do. Employees tend to reward loyalty with loyalty and making the effort to keep them safe should pay huge dividends.

Rob Enderle's Technology Product of the Year

Omniverse and Earth 2

Compassion for people would typically make AtHoc my product of the year given the difficulties we face, but fixing much of the problem putting these people at risk requires a global solution. The Earth 2 effort that builds on Nvidia Omniverse is such an endeavor.

If we can mitigate the over-arching threat to our planet then our need for a product like AtHoc would not be so immediate. Thus, I choose Nvidia Omniverse because of its Earth 2 effort. It highlights the potential of the metaverse — which is clearly a 2022 thing — to materially improve the world around us and eliminate much of the threat to humans that currently exists.

For these reasons, Nvidia Omniverse as it relates to the creation of Earth 2 is my product of the year.

I’ll talk to you next in 2022. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays!

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob.

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