Metaverse and digital twins
The term “metaverse” refers to a three-dimensional, immersive virtual environment where users can interact with each other and with digital objects. The metaverse is an evolution of the concept of a virtual world, which has developed in recent decades with the spread of online games and social platforms. The idea of the metaverse was made famous by Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash,” published in 1992, but it has recently gained new attention through the interest of large companies such as Facebook, which has renamed its company as “Meta” and announced ambitious plans to develop a metaverse.
“Digital twin,” on the other hand, refers to a digital representation of a physical object or process, created with the help of technologies such as 3D scanning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence. The digital twin can be used to simulate the operation of an object or system virtually, allowing analysis and testing to be carried out more efficiently and safely than traditional methods.
The metaverse and the digital twin can be connected in a variety of ways. For example, a machinery manufacturing company can use a digital twin to simulate the operation of a plant and identify any problems, while simultaneously technicians can interact with the digital twin through a metaverse, discussing and collaborating on troubleshooting remotely and collaboratively. In this way, the metaverse and the digital twin combine to create new work and business opportunities, facilitating communication and knowledge sharing between people and companies around the world.
What is a digital twin
A digital twin, or digital twin, is a virtual replica of a physical resource, which can be an object, a procedure, even a person. But it is not just a faithful representation; the digital twin is also, and more importantly, a collection of data about the replicated object. Indeed, it could be said that data is at the heart of digital twins, so much so that at the primitive stage, twins are simply Data Products. Simply put: solutions that combine a system’s data and insights from it to improve the functioning of the system. AI-generated use cases, user experience information, and what-if analysis results are added together. The goal can be, for example, speeding up a purchasing process, or better organization of employee shifts, or much more.
How to do a digital twin
The first step is project planning, with medium- and long-term goals. Some companies implement short-lived digital twins, but it is in the long run that you can make the most of these resources.
As mentioned, it all starts with a Data Product; once this is enriched, the actual digital twin is created. The complexity of the project can vary greatly (remember that there are digital twins of entire cities!). According to McKinsey & Company, however, building the basic version takes an average of three to six months. It is a job that involves professionals such as Data Scientists, Data Engineers and developers. The ideal is to arrive at a production system that is entirely replicated in the virtual, with the various twins interacting with each other to ensure ever-improving performance.
Digital twin, the metaverses available to date
To date, several platforms exist to facilitate the construction of digital twins, some led by the same brands that first pioneered the technology. Microsoft, for example, created Azure Digital Twins, an IoT platform that helps professionals build replicas of real objects, places, procedures and people. NVIDIA, on the other hand, is credited with founding NVIDIA Omniverse Enterprise, a metaverse for enterprises to produce and interconnect virtual assets. Still, AWS (Amazon Web Services) has created software for developers named AWS IoT TwinMaker. Finally, numerous companies are turning to specialists in building virtual worlds to shape proprietary principals for their exclusive use and access
How to develop the digital twin in the metaverse
Developing a digital twin in the metaverse requires creating a virtual representation of a physical object or process that is accurate and interactive. To develop a digital twin in the metaverse, a few steps must be followed:
- Data acquisition: the first step is to acquire data from the physical system, through technologies such as 3D scanning, sensor sensing and IoT. The collected data is then processed to create a digital representation of the object or process.
- Model creation: once the data has been acquired, a model of the digital twin is created, using 3D modeling software. The model must be accurate and complete in order to represent all features and functions of the physical system.
- Integration into the metaverse: the digital twin model is then integrated into the metaverse, through the use of development platforms such as Unity or Unreal Engine. In this way, users can interact with the digital twin and visualize its operation in real time.
- Data updating: the digital twin must be constantly updated with data from the physical system to ensure its accuracy and relevance over time. This requires the use of real-time data monitoring and analysis technologies, which allow any anomalies or problems to be identified and prompt action to be taken.
Developing a digital twin in the metaverse requires a good understanding of different technologies, such as 3D modeling, virtual and augmented reality, IoT and artificial intelligence. In addition, it is important to work in multidisciplinary teams, including experts in engineering, programming, design and communication, in order to create a complete and functional digital twin.
Currently, People’s University LUCE is carrying out a study with its experts on climate and agriculture, to identify mutually compatible places to grow the products produced that are ideal for our health and a healthy diet, and is also studying, through “digital twins” how to scientifically certify experiments that can change the health fortunes for the underserved.
For this reason, we are looking for partners who can further support and sustain this scientific and innovative effort, and we are entering into agreements with some of the most “visionary” international universities to create a network of technological and scientific research hubs.
DIGITAL TWIN, THE FUTURE OF ENTERPRISES PASSES THROUGH PEOPLE’S UNIVERSITY LUCE
From design to performance through manufacturing, digital twins are the cornerstone for developing a metaverse of companies in many sectors.
Digital twins are the cornerstone for building a metaverse of companies. That’s the theory of a recent McKinsey & Company study, which sees this resource as the key to optimizing industrial operations.
From design to performance through production. And indeed, there are already many brands making use of it, from Amazon to Tesla, from Apple to General Electric. Let’s better understand what digital twins are, what they have to do with virtual worlds, and why companies will invest millions in them.
Digital twins, what can be done today
The ultimate goal for which digital twins are created is to improve business performance. The contribution varies depending on when and to what extent these systems intervene in operations. For example, a digital twin can act as a budgeter, at the point when it simulates the progress of a procedure, including any delays or malfunctions. This allows the company to correct errors before they occur in reality, or before the negative effects become apparent. A digital twin can also serve to monitor an activity or facility remotely, shortening time and reducing the number of operators in the field. It is a facilitator that also leads to significant advances in risk management, as costs are cut and injuries are limited.
The applications of digital twins are far-reaching. On the production side, automotive makes great use of it, with brands such as Tesla and Ford making digital twins for every vehicle put on the road. In their case, the solution mainly helps R&D and quality control. The replicas process data collected from sensors on the cars and uploaded to the cloud, which are then used to identify possible risks or areas for improvement.
Digital twins also come in handy in marketing, as they generate photorealistic renderings and interactive 3D configurators for the potential buyer. Finally, they support the creation of human-machine interfaces (HMIs), such as In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) platforms and virtual instrument panels.
The energy sector also benefits from the support of digital twins, a well-established practice that delivers significant results. This is evidenced, for example, by General Electric’s digital wind farm, which has increased productivity by 20 percent and reduced maintenance work by 40 percent. Virtual replication of energy infrastructures makes it possible to simulate the entire lifecycle of products, envisioning any operating scenario in reduced time. The testing and monitoring activities of power grids involve numerous research centers operating in various parts of the country. Thanks to IT systems, testing is greatly simplified because there is no need to concentrate the expertise of several laboratories in one physical location.
Another successful application area for digital twins is healthcare. Indeed, they can play a key role, from cost savings to patient monitoring, preventive intervention and personalized health care delivery. In particular, their support for precision medicine is relevant. Engineers create virtual copies of patients or their organs to enable risk-free and easier simulation of interventions. A useful modality for care, but also for training future professionals.
Tourism and smart cities
As we have already recounted, the contribution made by digital twins to the tourism sector, from hotels to culture, is remarkable. Digital twins are central to the design of smart cities, the new urban centers that rely on digital technologies to improve livability. A resource that drives economic development, efficient resource management, reduced ecological footprint and increases the overall quality of services. The digital twin model can help urban planners and policymakers in city management by capturing information from various sensors and smart systems. Again, moreover, new resources can bring decision makers closer to end users through testing, simulations, and immersive surveys. In this way, choices for city planning are modeled on people’s real needs.
Many advantages of digital twins become apparent once the goals achievable with their implementation are listed. It is worth adding that with these resources, not only the production methods change, but also the relationships between various stakeholders. The digital twin promotes immersion, which fosters engagement. For the professional, this means access to new modes of orientation and training, capable of increasing productivity. For the consumer, on the other hand, it means having more services available and learning more about products.
The user experience becomes increasingly central, conditioning operations from the preliminary stages and reducing the distance between designer, manufacturer and end user. In addition, new solutions open up the possibility of new synergies between brands, as companies can develop services around the digital twin.
Digital twin, what the People’s University LUCE can do.
We have listed only a few of the many possible applications of digital twins, a resource that is already well established but certainly still holds surprises. Many brands could benefit from these systems and still not know it. With a deep understanding of the metaverse, People’s University LUCE can design and implement digital twin projects for a wide variety of situations. It can be an immersive experience for the consumer, or a simulation for employee training. It all starts from the study of the brand, to arrive at a service capable of combining business objectives with the opportunities offered by the new presidium.