Digital twins can accordingly be a digital representation of a physical object, place, system, person or process. An example would be a representation of an entire building.
The technology is particularly relevant to organisations that want to make better use of data from internet of things devices. Digital twins exploit this data using various cloud services and programs in the area of advanced data analytics and machine learning, often in real-time through the use of data streaming.
As a result of it being constantly provided with new and additional information, a digital twin learns the entire time about the physical world and changes as the real-life object which it represents changes. In combination with other technologies, digital twins can, for example, help improve analysis, make predictions and take decisions about the future, monitor processes, prevent or send warnings of critical incidents, deliver health benefits, and pre-test and improve physical products.
Connecting reality with digital models therefore provides numerous new opportunities. Some example applications include:
1. The oil industry creates digital twins of its platforms for purposes including monitoring, inspection, prediction, alerts, deployment and maintenance.
2. The building and construction industry is taking technical drawings to new heights through the use of exact 3D versions of buildings that bring all the relevant information together into a single space and are updated in real-time.
3. The energy industry uses digital twins of wind turbines to manage them remotely and to streamline maintenance plans, as well as for load balancing and electricity distribution, and also to identify power outages and to predict faults.
4. Banks and financial institutions produce customer segmentation models on the basis of their own data, public data and their partners’ data. Digital twins can thus help simulate future customer behaviour.
5. Healthcare providers train staff on digital twins rather than on actual patients’ organs. They also measure patients’ activity levels using fitness watches.
Digital twins also make it possible to analyse and test out scenarios digitally before changes are implemented in real life. As the internet of things develops, it will be possible to use digital twins for smaller and simpler elements and systems.