The year is quickly approaching its end and just like 2020, this year too has been a challenging year for many families. On the work-front, businesses too have seen their own pandemic challenges, which resulted in shifts to more resilient and hybrid work models. Fortunately, the tech world has not been standing still during the pandemic in 2021 and many exciting new innovations were unveiled this year like the big promise of the Metaverse and the first large companies implementing Metaverse solutions. Also, other new trends have taken off further like the democratization of AI and AI assisted pair programmers for developers.

The articles I wrote for our blog early this year covered all of those and various other tech trends, following the Top 10 Emerging Tech Trends 2021 post which I wrote in January 2021 based on market research data from Forrester, Gartner and our own internal research.

This post provides a short recap of all the content with links to each article.

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Figure 1: Microsoft HoloLens 2 Mesh app Preview in-action for Enterprise Metaverse collaboration across 9 time zones.

In February, I covered IoT, Robotics, Mixed Reality and hinted at our Microsoft Ignite session where we talked intensively about Digital Twins, IoT, Robotics and our Reply Robotics Platform. We summarized our impressions from Winter Ignite 2021 in these videos where my colleagues and I shared our announcement highlights like Azure Percept, Mesh, AI news and Viva.

The March post then had a deep dive into Microsoft Mesh and other immersive workspace scenarios leading towards the Enterprise Metaverse. In April, I focused on digital humans and the Digital Twin of the Person, which not only touched on the health aspect of a human digital twin and COVID vaccination passes but also decentralized identities and virtual presence like avatars. The Growth of Multiexperience (MX) Platforms was another interesting topic because it did not just include chatbots but also the accessibility aspect with broader diversity & inclusion support enabled by modern, adaptive MX input modalities.

Figure 2: Immersive Training with Vesper and MX.

In June we started the #SummerOfAI series with a post about Intelligent Edge AI Video Analytics where I presented a custom intelligent edge AI solution that provided real-time video camera image classification for workplace safety scenarios running on an inexpensive Raspberry PI 4 with the Adafruit ML Kit for Lobe. In the following article, I showed how that solution was built with Microsoft’s no-code AI solution Lobe and also mentioned the many other no-code and low-code offerings for the democratization of AI. Including the AI-assisted development tool GitHub Copilot, which I demoed here. With great power and ease of creation with low-code AI solution, comes great responsibility and in the last #SummerOfAI post I wrote about Digital Ethics and Responsible AI which is not just important for “doing the right thing” but can also decide if a business will flourish or fail. Risks include biased AI models or similar Machine Learning models, which should be mitigated early with ethical AI frameworks.

Figure 3: Our workplace safety demo running on an advanced Raspberry Pi 4 Adafruit ML Kit, executing a safety glasses detection AI model created with Lobe.

Quantum Computing is also a topic that has seen some great progress in 2021, including a new Quantum Computer with a 127-qubit processor. The next iterations are already in the works and there’s no doubt that in the midterm we will see Quantum Computers that are powerful enough to make today’s encryption algorithms, which are the basis of our privacy and security, obsolete. That’s why I covered Quantum Security, Q-Day and when Quantum Advantage may occur in this security article. In addition, we also launched season 3 of QuBites, our video podcast series where I interview expert guests in the Quantum field to help today's business leaders understand how to prepare for Quantum tech, which will be the next major market disrupter. We kicked off season 3 with a cryptography and Quantum Security expert who was also a contemporary dancer in her previous life and shared her impressive journey and security knowledge. Make sure to watch that episode and the complete season 3.You can also watch all episodes including season 1, 2 and 3 here.

In October, we continued the security conversation with research on threats already in play for AI security in the cloud and on the edge, how to best mitigate issues and being prepared with Zero Trust models.

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Figure 4: Animated logo of the QuBites video series.

After all the buzz around Metaverse in the fall (that led some companies to rebrand themselves), it’s no surprise I wrote an article dedicated to the Metaverse. In this November post we unpacked and categorized Metaverse terminology including: consumer and enterprise Metaverse target audience, the implementation ranging from full Virtual Metaverse worlds to the AR Real-World Metaverse leveraging the AR Cloud, and the digital twin of our physical world. I also highlighted Microsoft’s efforts in that space with the Microsoft Mesh platform and Mesh for Teams which was announced at Microsoft’s Ignite fall conference along with the Azure OpenAI Service (also covered in the November post). Shortly after that, I gave the opening keynote for the Global XR conference where I talked about the future of computing beginning with Spatial Computing, the Metaverse, Mesh, Azure Mixed Reality, leading to Quantum Computing. You can watch the recording below:

While 2021 has been challenging for many of us, it has also brought some great new things and I’m optimistically looking forward to 2022 where we will continue our journey to create innovative services and content. Reach out to us as schedule time with one of our industry experts and get a head start on your 2022 digital initiatives. Valorem Reply can help you reach your goals quickly and efficiently!


Happy Holidays from Valorem Reply’s Research & Incubation team. We hope you can enjoy the end of the year with your loved ones and spend some quality time together. See you in 2022!