How digital twin tech will transform operations

How digital twin tech will transform operations
Photo by Zack Walker / Unsplash

The enterprise metaverse could be the next evolution for remote and hybrid work. We've seen exponential growth in video communication and collaboration tools, but they're just the tip of the iceberg.

We wanted to make sense of this and leave the consumer-facing hype aside, like NFTs of luxury goods, tokenized second-hand luxury watches, making a quick buck in the creator economy, or babbling about metaverse gaming engines like Decentraland and Roblox.

Instead, we were digging into how large and mid-sized enterprises can use the metaverse to improve operations.

On January 12th, I co-hosted a digital "Think & Do" roundtable with IoT ONE and Excubate Ventures.  We invited Eric Liu, the CEO and founder of Virspatial, a leading spatial computing company to share exchange views on current use cases and challenges with 20 senior corporate managers on the call. Our digital Think ( & Do) roundtable focused on the nitty-gritty of how to implement this cutting-edge tech in a way that makes absolute business sense.

The enterprise metaverse is an immersive environment where every aspect of a company is connected and replicated to improve customer experiences and decision-making. This digital representation of real-world objects and environments, as well as purely virtual ones, is powered by digital twin technology. The metaverse promises to take collaboration to a new level with immersive and enhanced team communication, rapid skill acquisition, and AI-powered insights.

With the metaverse, teams can work in a virtual environment that mimics the real world, allowing them to collaborate and solve more complex problems in ways previously impossible. In addition, the limited pixel real estate of our 2D screens will be a thing of the past as the metaverse goes beyond the limitations of current technology and enables teams to work together more naturally and intuitively. Despite the enterprise metaverse's infancy, start-ups lead with innovative projects, such as creating digital twins of water treatment plants, airports, and building management systems.

The metaverse promises to integrate disparate data sources and systems so they can interact virtually. That said, it's early days. Solutions are typically bespoke, with applications and data often siloed in specific parts of an organization.
As always, with new tech, it starts by dipping your toes in the pond. Our speaker talked us through his platform, which centralizes and integrates various data types, including CAD files, BIM, GIS, and streaming IoT data.

Their projects included creating interactive digital twins of water treatment plants, airports, real estate properties, ports, energy infrastructure, and building management systems.

Existing infrastructure, such as CCTV feeds used for security systems, can be integrated into a digital twin and repurposed for asset and event monitoring. Machine vision creates digital representations of the video stream for algorithms to analyze events in real-time or conduct forensic analysis on past events.

Quite a few use cases where existing data feeds can be integrated into a platform and combined with other data to enable use cases with minimal investment. Additionally, the platform incorporates AI for chatbots, robotics for visualization, and AR/VR for data management. While AR/VR is not an essential aspect of the metaverse, it does contribute to a better understanding and more practical applications.

Expect this to be different from our early days' Internet experience. Today, the enterprise metaverse runs on video game technology and powerful GPU graphics cards for real-time renderings. In addition, 5G is improving data streaming, thereby lifting the user experience.

Creating an enterprise metaverse requires a significant long-term investment in various technologies. So, yes, this could form a prominent way we run operations. However, it may not be around the corner tomorrow. Significant challenges related to security and business concerns may impede the implementation of this cutting-edge technology.

Take a step-by-step approach and careful consideration of ROI and manageable risk. Then, link each step with a specific application. Which application do you have in mind? The enterprise metaverse may be commonplace the day after tomorrow.

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