Digital Twin and the Metaverse

In my last post, I asked, “What is the Metaverse?” I took a look at the hype around the Metaverse. I mentioned that a big part of the Metaverse will be built using Digital Twins, a digital representation of the real world. With billions of devices connecting each other and the cloud, there is an abundance of data flowing. Edge computing is also bringing the Metaverse to fruition.

Digital Twin

Digital twins allow you to replicate the physical world while binding to the digital world in real-time synchronization. A digital twin can be built out as a spatial intelligence graph to model the relationships between people, spaces, and devices. You can start small by mapping out a few physical assets and growing over time to include more assets and the interactions between the assets. More and more, your graph will grow larger. There are many benefits of building a digital twin that allows an organization to become more agile and more reactive to the changes in their physical environment.

Monitor Digital Insights (Current State)

Digital twins allow organizations to capture the current state of their environment. By syncing data from IoT devices, internal data sources, and external data, you can get an accurate picture of what is going on around you. You will be able to track and analyze data in a connected environment.

Track the Past (Analytics)

You are gaining valuable insights as data flows through the twin. This allows you to analyze past performance to determine patterns. Analytics can then be exposed through KPI’s giving you an indication of the health of your system. You will be able to identify patterns, trends, and anomalies.

Predict the Future (Machine Learning)

Hooking your twin up to a data model trained on past performance allows you to predict the future. Flowing data through a model gives you actionable intelligence from which you can act.

Simulate Changes

Digital twins provide another benefit, a platform from which you can run simulations without affecting your physical environment. The more accurate your twin is to the physical world, the better you will evaluate simulations and see the impact changes may have on your system.

Autonomous Control

Events flowing through your twin can trigger actions in other systems, including the physical system connected to your twin. A temperature change can trigger a downstream system to perform an action. This enables autonomous control of your environment, freeing up resources that otherwise may have been occupied by these tasks.

The Metaverse

So how do Digital Twins serve as a backbone for the Metaverse? The interconnectedness of the physical and the digital is how. There are two areas, through mixed reality, where digital twins shine. First is having the digital overlaid upon the physical world. Imagine a factory worker with an augmented reality device, phone, tablet, or HoloLens, being able to see real-time telemetry overlaid on a machine as they walk around the factory floor.  This data is supplied by the machine sending telemetry to the cloud, syncing to the twin, and the twin supplying the telemetry data and other metadata to the device on the factory floor. You can even take it a step further and have the factory worker send a command through the AR device to change the machine. They may even run a simulation and have that information overlaid. The point is that the users can interact with the physical environment through the digital twin.

The second area where digital twins and the Metaverse shine is collaboration across physical distances. The digital twin gives a common reference that can be used during collaboration. Picture two technicians on opposite sides of the world working to solve a problem on a factory floor. The digital twin can be rendered in an AR/VR world, and the two technicians can interact with the twin, which displays the current state and alert to the problem based on analysis of the telemetry it receives. They can then collaborate on a solution to the problem. They can even run simulations and see the outcomes before applying any changes.

Conclusions

Using digital twins may not be the sexy use case for the Metaverse, but they will play a vital role in the enterprise. Bringing the data to the physical and allowing the user to interact with the environment will be a time saver in some industries. If there is one thing that COVID has taught us, collaboration in the digital is possible and even productive. A technician no longer needs to jump on a plane and fly for hours to solve a problem. In a virtual environment, they can jump into solving the problem. Not every use of the Metaverse will require a digital twin, but if you are building out an enterprise solution, you should see if having a twin would be beneficial.  

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