Wouldn’t it be great to simulate plans or create what-if scenarios for the products, facilities and processes you want to change before committing real resources to an actual implementation? This is the promise of digital twins. And many businesses and industries are taking advantage of that promise, as these 7 amazing examples of digital twin technology illustrate.
What is a digital twin?
As an exact digital replica of something in the physical world, digital twins are made possible by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that collect data from the physical world and send it to machines to reconstruct it. While the digital twin concept has been around since 2002, when Michael Grieves of the University of Michigan first used the terminology, it is IoT technology that has made it affordable and accessible to many other businesses. By creating a digital twin, ideas on how to improve operations, increase efficiency, or discover a problem are all possible before it happens to duplicate itself in the real world. The lessons learned from the digital twin can then be applied to the original system with much less risk and much more return on investment.
When you take a minute to consider all the ways it could be useful to businesses, it’s easy to see how nearly limitless the potential of digital twin technology is. This is probably why digital twin technology was included in by Gartner Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017 and 2018. Gartner predicted there will be 21 billion connected sensors by 2020, making digital twins possible for billions of things.
7 Amazing Examples of Digital Twin Technology
Businesses use digital twin technology for many reasons, including improving ongoing operations, training employees, and testing new products or procedures before launching them in the real world where it becomes more expensive and complicated to troubleshoot. .
Often, artificial intelligence and machine learning are used to analyze the operating model represented by the digital twin, regardless of the location of the actual installation, even if the the equipment is in space. NASA has used pairing technology, the precursor to digital twin technology, from the earliest days of space exploration to solve the problem of operating, maintaining, and repairing systems when you don’t. are not physically close. This is precisely how engineers and astronauts on Earth determined how to save the Apollo 13 mission. Today, digital twins are used at NASA to explore next-generation vehicles and aircraft.
Digital twin technology can help staff become familiar with the implementation of the Internet of Things and automation, as they have the ability to simulate the application before it goes live. Lessons learned and opportunities discovered through a digital twin can then be applied to the physical environment.
Since digital twins can give a real-time view of what is happening with equipment or other physical assets, they have been very useful in manufacturing to reduce maintenance issues and ensure optimal production yield. . Chevron expects to save millions of dollars in maintenance costs of digital twin technology that they will have deployed on equipment by 2024 in oilfields and refineries.
Similar to the benefits of manufacturing, digital twins can revolutionize healthcare operations as well as patient care. A digital twin of a patient or organs allows surgeons and healthcare professionals to perform procedures in a simulated environment rather than on a real patient. Bandage size sensors can monitor patients and produce digital models that can be monitored by AI and used to improve care.
During the Spring Festival Gala broadcast on China Central Television, the four human hosts were joined by an AI copy of themselves—their own digital twin created by ObFR. They are more than computer-generated avatars, as they used machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision to create virtual copies of the hosts. Future applications of this technology include plans to build AI-powered teachers, nurses and doctors.
Digital twin technology has even been deployed to refine Formula 1 car racing. In a sport where every second counts, a simulation can help the driver and the automotive team know what adjustments can improve performance.
There is even a Singapore’s digital twin! Imagine all the variables that go into running a city. Digital twin technology helps city planners understand and improve energy consumption efficiency as well as many applications that can improve the lives of its citizens.
Where else do you think a virtual replica of a physical object would be helpful? From wind farms to agricultural modernization and testing smartphones to improve services, there really is no limit to how digital twin technology can positively impact our world.