Guess what? … In near future we can have digital twins that can do some of our tasks!
Initially, let us first explain the meaning of digital twins … Assume you have a machine like an engine, you can use a computer software to build a 3D model of that engine and display it on screen. Moreover, you can add some sensors at the engine that transfer some readings about engine to the computer model. Accordingly, you can say that the engine has a digital twin.
In other words, digital twins are computer-based models that replicate physical assets. These physical assets can be any machine or equipment such as jet engine, wind turbines, or oil extraction pump. Recently, world started talking about digital twins for humans too.
The digital twins are expanding so rapidly that Gartner report included that in its report of the top 10 technology trends for 2017.
The video below is an example of a digital twin for a bicycle.
Why digital Twins
Digital twins allow engineers to monitor and simulate the performance of physical assets. For example, they can a digital twin to monitor the performance of a working engine through the received reading. Then, they can detect when the engine needs an oil change or when a specific component may fail. Moreover, they can use the digital twin to predict the performance of the real engine in different condition and at different working hours. Accordingly, they can set the safety operation rules and the preventive maintenance schedule for the engine. Additionally, they can detect the potential areas for improvement in order to achieve a better performance.
Digital Twins for Humans
Our Digital twins are software models that can understand us. Imagine that model understands things like your food preferences, your shopping style, your taste of music, and your favorite movies too. That model can act as another version of you. In other words, that model will be your digital twin.
Accordingly, digital twins can act as personal assistants and we can delegate some of our tasks to them. They can do some shopping from supermarkets, handle the reservations for your trip, and they can even do conversations with others to schedule a meeting as in this example.
Building and using digital twins requires a mix of several technologies:
Building a 3D model requires Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to draw the digital representation of the physical asset.
Internet Of Things (IOT) is used to keep the connection between the physical asset and the digital twin. The sensors readings transmitted online from the physical asset to the computer allows engineers to monitor and simulates the performance of the physical asset.
If you watched the above video about the digital twin of the bicycle, you will see how they used a tablet with a camera to display the actual physical bicycle on screen along with the readings at the same time.
Big Data Analytics
When talking about digital twins for humans, we talk about huge data that should be analyzed so that the computer model can understand us. That includes the food we like, the movies we watch, our daily routine, and many other inputs. that is handled by Big Data.
Artificial Intelligence algorisms are needed when we allow our digital twins to take some decisions or interact with others.
Some movie shows ideas related to digital twins:
If you watched the famous “Iron Man” movies, you will see Tony Stark builds computer model for his suits. In the first movie, we see how he modeled the first suit before using his robots to build & paint the suit. During the actual use, he was receiving continuous updates about performance of the different systems embedded inside the suit. When necessary, Jarvis was alerting him.
There is a good fiction movie in 2006 named “Click”. The story is about an architect who found a remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life. He used the fast-forward to skip times such as time spent in traffic jams, social family gatherings, and fights with wife. Although his body was physically there, he was not living the moment. It is as if another version of him was there to replace him and doing minimum basic interactions with others. Meanwhile, he concentrates his mind on work so that he get the promotion he seeks.
Another famous movie is “I-Robot” in 2004. Unlike the previous example, a science-fiction movie with realistic and scientific prediction for the future. In the movie, the detective went to the robotics company to investigate the murder of the scientist. When he went there, he met a digital representation of the murdered scientist that was displayed by a hologram device. The detective had a short conversation with that representation which was actually just a software program.
Digital Twins game
A nice and simple game by GE, one of the leading companies in this field, will give you an idea about digital twins while having fun at the same time. You can access the game here.
A writer & GIS consultant … Studied the Management of Technology … dreaming with a better world.