DOUBLE? NO TROUBLE: Using A Digital Twin to Your Advantage

 It may sound like science fiction, but did you know we all have a duplicate of ourselves in the digital world? Data gathered in your everyday life from sensors, smartphones, wearables and other devices has created a digital copy of yourself.

So, what can we do with it?

YOU HAVE A DIGITAL TWIN… WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH IT?

If you’re still unsure about what the Digital Twin is, you’re not alone. At first glance, the concept of a Digital Twin sounds more like your online persona.

Did you originally jump to think of your Facebook profile representing a twin of you online? Sounds simple to break it down that way, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

The Economist published a recent article that described the Digital Twin in full complexity. As they explain, traditionally the only way to gather information on a piece of equipment was to inspect it from a distance. Fast-forward to present times, and “today, increased computing power and connectivity are making it possible to virtualize this task by creating and maintaining a digital representation, or ‘Digital Twin’, of any piece of real equipment, and thus of any plant or engine”.

A Digital Twin is the digital representation of a real world, physical entity. ‘Digital Twinning’ allows us to collect specific, real time data on complex machinery, people and places which allows for a representation of the asset’s location, condition, activity and day/time information in a digital environment.

The Digital Twin is compared to the likes of E-Books versus print publications, paper turned into digital. Simplicable’s list of 11 examples of digital twins goes a few steps further to provide examples.

For instance, a race car pit is able to determine that a part that will burn out prior to the event occurring by receiving information through the Digital Twin. ‘Smart City’ features can allow navigable models of infrastructure, including underground systems. This concept has been described as a ‘mirror’ that allows improvement and change in faster courses of time, but how can this help us in the Internet of Things (IoT)?

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DIGITAL TWIN & THE IOT

The IoT connects anything and everything to information networks in order to gain actionable insights or solve consumer and business problems. This data can also be used to predict events before they occur and analyze environments to assure the safety and well-being of everyone.

As Gartner’s explained in their Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends article, “Digital Twins of people, physical assets, facilities, businesses, environments and processes will enable an increasingly detailed digital representation of the real world for simulation, analysis and control.”

Here at Aware360 we focus on People in the Internet of Things (PeopleIoT™) to see how we can improve lives through connected technology. Not surprisingly, the Digital Twin has become a hot topic in the office.

How can we use our digital counterparts to achieve previously unimaginable things? Can we create real world environmental twins as well?

We are just hitting the tip of the iceberg in leveraging Digital Twins. While the IoT industry has rapidly increased interest in the area, we still are unsure about all of the applications. What we do know is that the trend is here to stay due to the increasing number of connected devices and sensors on the market.

ONE STEP FURTHER

Dan Woods in an article for Forbes said it best;

“The concept of the Digital Twin contains a trap. When we think of a twin, we think of a copy of an individual. In the digital world, we often think of a copy of an individual device – a physical replica of conveyor belt or radar. The trap is that we limit the scope of twindom and think too small.”

How do we go about stepping outside the perceived limits of ‘twindom’ and start to think of all the potential applications?

Step 1: Get outside the ‘one device’ mindset:

We need to go beyond thinking one sensor or one gadget will solve problems, and into realizing the world is much larger and more information is needed.

“You must expand the scope of how they’re used and what they can do. Instead of building a Digital Twin of a device, you need to build a Digital Twin of the entire plant. You need to build twins of collections of devices, of higher order systems, and capture as much information as possible about the context in which the plant is operating”, Dan Woods.

Step 2: Create testing environments:

Once you have gathered information using numerous IoT devices and sensors, you are ready to begin reconciling mistakes of the past and creating plans for the future. In the industrial sector, emergency response events and operational performance can be evaluated in the digital test environment without causing any harm to real world assets or people.

We are only beginning to understand the possibilities of leveraging Digital Twins in the IoT. There opportunities are endless and there is still much to learn about creating these test environments and unifying the data.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

With many different applications on a variety of devices, the Digital Twin allows for increased productivity to estimate challenges ahead of time and provide change implementation in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Additionally, this concept will provide innovations to help companies manage their people, places and things with optimal efficiency.

The Digital Twin is an excellent operational and safety tool that opens a variety of doors. Where do you see the possibilities of the Digital Twin taking you?

TWINS, QUADRUPLETS, QUINTUPLETS – WHAT’S THE FUTURE?

As advancements in the IoT are just ramping up, we are nowhere near the pinnacle of Digital Twin technology. Gartner believes, “within three to five years, billions of things will be represented by Digital Twins”. This vast increase in Digital Twinning is likely due to the booming IoT market where manufacturers are creating more connected devices than ever before.

Jim McDade, Aware360 COO, expressed “We are looking at all the ways Digital Twins can be used to increase safety and productivity for people not only in the workplace, but also in their daily ventures. This is something set to revolutionize the way we all live our lives.”

At Aware360, the Digital Twin is revolutionizing our offerings from lone workers to student safety and the remote monitoring of equipment. Going forward, we believe that leveraging Digital Twins will create more advanced solutions for our customers.

Any ideas on how you want to use your Digital Twin yet?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *