The concept of digital twins has been around for a good 15 years already, but it seems that, as time goes on, things are shifting towards a global-wide implementation of it.
So what is a digital twin? Well, it’s a virtual model of a process, product or service, which manufacturing companies can use to analyze data and monitor systems in search for problems that may occur. In short, the digital twin is here to make it easier for companies to snuff problems out before they affect the physical object.
In fact, using digital twins has become a sort of imperative in recent years, as companies find the many advantages of running simulations on it, rather than in real life. Once a device, like a plane, is strapped with all types of sensors and the digital twin is created, then the company behind the device can start running all sorts of simulations to see how it would react to a certain situation. This can be particularly useful in times of crisis so engineers can spot what needs to be improved, what needs to be changed, and what can be done to remediate the situation before it turns bad.
NASA was the first to use this type of technology, long before the digital twin concept was born. Back then, they called it pairing technology, and NASA had been using it since the early days of space exploration. Of course, NASA wanted to figure out how to fix issues in space without being physically there to see what the problem was. Nowadays, NASA too has moved on to digital twins, as it prepares the next space ships and aircrafts.
In fact, NASA can see a future where the digital twin will be used to create, test, and build the equipment. Basically, it will all be created in virtual reality, tested until there’s nothing left to test, before production is even started. In that way, a lot of money would be saved, not to mention potential lives in case of disaster.
But the idea that our future planes, cars, and so on, will be 100% virtual before they are even constructed gives many a few chills up their spine. That’s probably because many people still trust the physical devices better than their digital counterparts, even if the virtual realities in which they are tested have now become so advanced they can handle any and all situations. While it would be somewhat strange to have the digital version be the “first born” and the physical one the actual twin, it makes sense in the long run.
Companies of the future will likely turn to this option in the years to come. After all, in this way, they can test the virtual alternative until it performs to their requirements. Then, after they physically build it, they can start running tests again, only so the digital twin can have the second set of data too.
This is the future we’re going to be living in, and it’s best if we accept it and stop seeing it like some kind of sci-fi scenario. The digital twin is cost-efficient and practical, so reluctance to use it should be tossed aside. After all, there are entirely too many advantages to it to hide under a rock.