September 9, 2020, Kathmandu
How would you feel if you build a car with a huge investment and later find out that it has various performance issues? Similarly, if we tell you that you can evaluate and enhance your car’s performance by building a car that is similar to your car before taking it to the road? This would save you a huge amount of time and money. That is what digital twin technology does!
Digital Twin Technology is a popular buzzword in the IoT[Internet of Things] community today. The concept of a digital twin is not very new as it has been around since 2002.It was first coined by Dr.Michael Grieves. But even before that, NASA had been using various simulations of its spacecraft and components which is basically what digital twin technology does. Today, it’s very common and is used more than ever because of the immense success of the IoT world.
What is IoT?
IoT stands for the Internet of Things. Wikipedia defines it as,” The Internet of things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”
In this article, we will discuss what digital twins are, the importance of digital twin technology, various applications, and much more. So stay with us on the journey of knowing this technology.
First and foremost let’s get to know what a digital twin actually is.
What is a digital twin?
According to Wikipedia,” A digital twin is a digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. Digital twin refers to a digital replica of potential and actual physical assets, processes, people, places, systems, and devices that can be used for various purposes.”
Digital Twin acts as the bridge between the physical world and the digital world. It is like a real product or thing but actually virtual. You might think of it as a simple 3D model of any object which is partly true, but this digital twin takes into account all the dynamics of the object’s operation in the real world. A digital twin is not just a dumb prototype or a replica of some object. It is as real as the object into consideration.
Digital Twin is based on the foundation of IoT.
Capabilities of Digital Twins:
According to IBM’s Chris O’Conner following set of capabilities is a must in a Digital Twin:
- Analytics in every step: Whether it’s a simple device or a complex device such as an automobile or an aircraft, the amount of data that is used is staggering. The analytics must be both real-time and operational and quality and must have predictive analysis in nature.
- Open and Federated Data: The data needs to be open i.e. it must be accessible to various sources at any given time.
- Industry Context: You need to use the industry context. Sometimes the same product can be used differently in different industries. The digital twin not only captures the engineering context but it also captures the industry context and various dynamics.
Here’s an important video from IBM’s Chris O’Conner where he has precisely and succinctly explained the concept of Digital Twins and everything related to it. You will learn a lot from there.
Let’s consider a scenario: If you want to create a digital twin of an airplane, its digital twin will have all the necessary features and working dynamics of the real-time airplane.
How does a digital Twin work?
Digital Twin = Simulated Model + Data + Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Algorithms, Mathematics, Analytics)
The above equation simply explains what digital twins actually consist of. For a digital twin to function properly, it must be fed with correct data which should be later analyzed and combined with various technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and various algorithms to procure precise results.
Firstly, we need to identify the physical object or system whose replica or twin. The data scientists and experts research the system or object they want to create the digital twin of. They understand the underlying mechanisms, operational characteristics, and all those important aspects of the original system at hand. After that, the twin is created.
Although a twin is created, how will it receive the data that helps it to mimic the original system?
- The experts use digital sensors to import the data from the original system to the twin so that it fully-fledged acts and operates as the original object in real-time. The collected data is either centrally stored in the cloud or locally decentralized.
After that, data is combined with Intelligence i.e. Analytics, Machine Learning, and other mathematical algorithms. This now makes Digital Twin capable of predictive analysis, optimization, and warnings, etc.
Meanwhile, when you are mimicking the original system or object, you can always consider choosing the data or inputs based on your need. If you want a simple digital twin with minimal needs, you can do that at less cost and time. Similarly, at more investment of time and money, you can create a complex system as per your need.
Importance Of Digital Twin Technology
With the boom in the concept of the Internet of Things all around the world, it’s absolutely necessary to know what importance does digital twin technology hold. The following are some points to briefly state that.
- Early Detection and Warning: Detect problems and defects in the real-time system in advance
- Making a predictive analysis of various aspects of operationality of devices and complex systems
- Train the employees virtually
- Maintaining and repairing systems
- Saves a great deal of time and money
- Enhanced performance of various systems and products at hand
- Innovation in businesses
There are several instances where various industries use Digital Twin. From NASA using pairing technology way before digital twin for space exploration to refining Formula 1 racing, there are several examples of how Digital Twin Technology has taken over various industries and domains. Forbes has listed some of them in this article.
Now, let’s find out the application of this technology in various domains.
- Manufacturing: Digital twins have drastic importance in the manufacturing industry. The creation of a digital twin ensures that the manufacturing of a product is more efficient and effective.
- Automotive: The automobile industry uses digital twins to create a virtual model of cars and various vehicles. After collecting the necessary data and operational inputs, the digital twin helps in analyzing the overall performance of the automobile and upgrade its features.
- Healthcare: This technology can have an immense impact on the healthcare sector. From creating a cost-effective environment to providing personalized healthcare to the patients, it can have a myriad of applications.
- Retail Industry: Digital twin technology can also play an important role in this sector. Implementing this technology can help in better planning, security, and operation of the stores. Similarly, by mimicking the customer’s behavior, one can create a whole new strategy and plan to optimize their performance and increase the revenue.
- Performance Tuning: By analyzing the various performance metrics of the system, a digital twin helps in maximizing the performance and output of any system at hand.
- Smart Cities: Digital Twins will help the bodies involved in the planning of smart cities to make better planning and construction by collecting relevant data from intelligent sensors and systems.
Future Of Digital Twin Technology:
Today when the world as a whole is invested in the fourth industrial revolution [Industry 4.0], Digital Twin Technology is an inseparable part of it. Digital Twins are the next big thing in the fourth industrial revolution for the development of new products and systems.
“Over time, digital representations of virtually every aspect of our world will be connected dynamically with their real-world counterparts and with one another and infused with AI-based capabilities to enable advanced simulation, operation, and analysis,” says vice president and Gartner Fellow David Cearley. “City planners, digital marketers, healthcare professionals, and industrial planners will all benefit from this long-term shift to the integrated digital twin world.”
This technology can bring unlimited possibilities in this time and age. From here on, this technology can only move forward and upwards creating new avenues for exploration to all the enthusiasts like us. It would be interesting to see how this moves forward.
For further information, you can visit this link to download the seminar report of Digital Twins Technology. Similarly, you can always dive deeper into this subject matter by surfing the internet. There are literally millions of materials out there for you to explore.
Meanwhile, let us know if you have any comments and feedback on this. We would love to hear from our readers.