Although the idea of using simulations and computers to replicate real-life scenarios has been around for a while, Digital Twins are now gaining traction in fields other than the traditional aerospace and manufacturing industries.
Recent market research by MarketsandMarkets indicates that digital twins are set for an unprecedented surge in popularity over the next decade. The market for digital twins, which was valued at $3.5 billion in 2023, is projected to skyrocket to an impressive $48 billion within just four years, as per their estimates. Experts attribute this substantial growth to the increased accessibility of cloud-based data storage and almost unlimited computing power. This translates to a whopping annual growth rate of 58%.
At present, experts suggest that only about 5% of businesses utilize digital twins.
As per the report’s creators, the surge in demand for digital twins is primarily being fueled by the COVID-19 crisis, which has led to a greater need for digital twin solutions in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. Additionally, the changing nature of maintenance practices and the widespread adoption of digital twin tools to mitigate the impact of the pandemic are also significant driving forces behind the growth of the digital twin market.
Aside from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, digital twins are also attracting the attention of several large multinational corporations with thousands of employees worldwide. They are utilizing digital twins to analyze their business operations, identify potential issues, and obtain fresh insights.
Digital twins are being used to replicate entire countries by Wejo, a top connected car data and analytics company. This approach enables urban planners to simulate how vehicles would operate on new roads and how they would interact with traffic control systems, such as traffic lights. Using car-mounted IoT sensors worldwide, Wejo has accumulated trillions of data points.
Wejo’s Chief Technology Officer, David Burns, foresees that digital twins will completely overhaul multiple sectors, including road safety, advertising, insurance, and after-sales services. Using digital twins, we can track the movements of connected vehicles at a distance of more than a kilometer and adjust the behavior of self-driving cars based on this data.
The Relationship between the Digital and Real Worlds
Digital twins are gaining widespread popularity due to their capacity to assist managers in enhancing procedures, optimizing operations, obtaining insights that were previously unavailable, speeding up innovation, and potentially lowering expenditures.
Animated Insights utilized digital twins to replicate towering structures like New York City’s Chrysler Building. It took around four months to create LIDAR scans of every floor and integrate them with data from the building’s management systems. This was mainly due to the fact that the building was erected before the advent of computers and digitalized blueprints.
The 3D model that was generated provides facility managers with a thorough view of the building’s operations, enabling them to address minor problems before they escalate. Facility managers can monitor assets, access real-time security camera footage, and track visitor activity, among other responsibilities. The degree of effectiveness of the model relies on the systems it is connected to and the data it gathers.
The Expansion of Process Pairs
Digital twins go beyond 3D modelling and visualization; they are analytical models of physical systems or processes that can analyze real-time data and offer valuable reports to aid human decision-making.
Nowadays, companies have access to an unprecedented amount of data that is available in real-time. Cloud computing can handle an almost infinite amount of processing cycles and storage capacity, allowing for more complex systems to be modeled precisely with digital twins. This may not necessarily augment the overall value of digital twins, but it does expand the range of situations in which they can be utilized. Furthermore, digital process twins are becoming more prevalent as a result of the abundance of data streams and analytics, and they are being employed to oversee and track supply chains in real-time.
According to Ryan Raiker, Senior Director of Product Marketing at ABBYY, process twins are beneficial because they provide insight into the intricate processes that could be contributing to perplexing or undesirable outcomes. He stated, “Furthermore, as process mining continues to progress, digital twin technology will become increasingly significant.
To create smart storefronts, Lowe’s, the top hardware and home improvement retailer, is using digital twins. Their upcoming virtual model will comprise web-based analytics and 3D store maps. The digital twins that are produced will help in training Artificial Intelligence models, which would eventually guide inventory robots around stores and assist personnel in stocking items and fulfilling other customer-facing duties.
Numerous entities are studying the possible uses of digital twins combined with mixed reality technologies such as augmented reality (AR) to offer consumers an improved representation of reality. Healthcare practitioners are constructing digital human replicas to assist in swiftly and accurately diagnosing patients and prescribing appropriate treatments. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is examining the potential use of digital twins to assess cutting-edge treatment strategies such as mRNA technology, which has been instrumental in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Several of these concepts are undoubtedly futuristic. Nonetheless, the technology to actualize them exists in most instances. The challenge consists of merging various technological fields and constantly supplying relevant data to the models to yield practical outcomes. Without this, the models are simply superficial graphics with no genuine function.