Digital Twin Tech in the Private Sector
Imagine being able to create a digital copy of yourself to test out the latest trends in beauty or that haircut you’ve been thinking about, but too scared to do. Well imagine no more, Digital Twin technology is here. According to Forbes, “[Digital twin technology] fuses ideas including artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), metaverse, and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) to create digital models of real-world objects, systems, or processes.”
Now, before this technology gets to consumers, it is mainly used by businesses in the healthcare, aircraft and automotive, energy, and retail sectors. Because digital twin models can simulate physical products and/or projects, the data it generates helps to create a better picture of performance issues, and options for improvement for the physical object. For retail businesses the focus is on supply chains.
Earlier this year at RILA’s LINK Retail Supply Chain Conference, leading retailer Dollar General shared how it has used elements of digital twin technology to improve the ongoing work of optimizing supply chain networks—particularly in the current environment of persistent supply chain disruption. While assessing impacts at various segments of the supply chain, the ability to test the outcomes of particular choices has been a valuable tool in mitigating the effects of disruption.
“The complexity, variability, and geographic reach of supply chains makes them a practical application for digital twin technology,” notes RILA’s vice president of supply chain, Jess Dankert. “As the technology continues to become more accessible, even more retailers will explore its use for planning and decisions—and especially for the collaborative benefits.”
Why the Interest in Digital Twin Tech Now
Digital twin technology has been around since the 1960s, with NASA creating models to chart out flight paths for space exploration. While on the radar for enterprise businesses since the early 2000s, digital twin technology requires connectivity, data storage, and bandwidth to process massive volumes of data. While great in theory, many businesses found it to be cost-prohibitive when executed.
So why are businesses interested now? We are seeing the benefits from years of research. The growth of the Internet, with the metaverse, IoT technology, and a stronger computing infrastructure, companies are better equipped to handle the framework of digital twin models. According to Accenture, “The global digital twin market, valued at $3.21 billion in 2020, is expected to reach $184.5 billion by 2030.”
According to a Markets and Markets research report, the North American market is expected to dominate the digital twin industry. The report states, “[Digital twin technology] is further expected to grow at the highest [compound annual growth rate] CAGR during 2022 to 2027. Improving business outlook in the US and the government’s steps to reform tax codes, significant package announcements for manufacturing and infrastructure companies, and the presence of major digital twin technology providers are boosting the adoption of digital twin in the region.”
Digital Twin Tech and the Metaverse
With the rapid growth of the Metaverse in mind, companies are using digital twins to create a virtual world for their customers and employees. According to an article by Sam George, Corporate Vice President of Azure IoT, Microsoft’s digital twin technology, “Metaverse apps are the culmination of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge working in harmony together—at their foundation is digital twins. Digital twins enable you to create rich digital models of anything physical or logical, from simple assets or products to complex environments.”
In addition to being the foundation of Metaverse apps, digital twins provide business with the ability to create virtual workspaces. George writes, “You can get rich metadata and insights into anything you’re doing in the physical world from this digital copy. You can also interact in pure virtual space, even over distances with colleagues and experts anywhere in the world.”
Interest in digital twin technology is growing just as quickly as the metaverse. Although not necessary for all businesses, if a large enterprise is looking to remodel or expand a large-scale project and/or product, digital twins can map that large-scale data, which in turn provides valuable insight into the value of the project and/or product.
RILA is currently running a series on the Metaverse in conjunction with Accenture. Our upcoming webinar will touch on digital twins in the metaverse. If you missed our last webinar you can watch it here.
Technology & Innovation
Retail Innovation Center