The term digital twin doesn’t refer to two identical virtual things, but rather to a digital version of a physical object that mirrors the physical one in every way. This may not sound especially interesting or useful at first blush, but digital twins are the next big thing in practically every industry you can think of.
The idea behind a digital twin is that, through the use of many different integrated sensors, the digital version of an item would offer insight into any issues with the physical version, and perhaps even allow for remote repair. This relates very closely to the Internet of Things, which consists of many different connected devices monitored collectively.
NASA first drummed up this concept when it was first attempting space exploration. Back then they called it pairing technology, a necessary innovation in order for the agency to feel confident they could monitor and repair a space craft’s system should it experience malfunctions.
Today, NASA still uses digital twins to create visions for the next generation of spacecraft. By testing the way that components will interact virtually, there’s no need to physically manufacture something until it meets specifications.
It’s not just space exploration that digital twins are useful in, though.
From The Production Line to Your Doctor’s Office
Among many other industries, manufacturing and healthcare are two of the emerging areas where digital twins are useful. Through the use of sensors that measure things like blood pressure and heart rate, doctors are able to create simulated versions of their patients.
This not only gives healthcare providers a more comprehensive overview of their patients, but also allows them to collect remote data over a longer period of time for more detailed results.
In manufacturing, digital twins give businesses unprecedented insight into the function of their machines. Before, if a production line broke down, it would only be possible to find the root of the issue through an investigation.
A highly specialized digital twin technology may even allow engineers or other professionals to fix the problem remotely with minimal downtime.
Bringing Duplicity to Every Industry
Boiled down, the idea of a digital twin has been seen time and time again through tropes like the Voodoo doll, or any other item that could be controlled from afar. As the Internet of Things becomes a more prominent reality, though, it’s clear that digital twins have a wide range of practical applications.
If every device, piece of equipment, and even body can be monitored with a high degree of accuracy, it could mean a serious reduction in instances of lost productivity, and even unforeseen physical episodes. By getting an inside look, problems can be addressed before they become problems at all.
Creating virtual replicas of physical items can only serve to increase the world’s understanding about them, and make life easier in a very material way.