Digital Twins and the Business Metaverse

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Businesses must leverage digital twin technology to deliver significant value today, while building the engine for the enterprise metaverse of tomorrow

With Zuckerberg’s declaration of the metaverse being an immersive platform, that will see consumers live their experiences, and shape every product the new-look Meta builds, businesses too have sat up and taken notice of this emerging technological future.

Some experts peg the metaverse at a value near $1 trillion in the years to come, with Gartner predicting that one out of every four consumers will be using the metaverse (which the firm describes as a “collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality”) for at least an hour each day by 2026.

Since time immemorial, technological disruptions have been the proverbial meteor that wiped out slow-moving organisational dinosaurs. The metaverse will be no different, making it a must for companies to adapt to keep up with the times. Companies would do well to understand some of the more practical ways that their are harnessing them right now, with digital twin technology in the metaverse a particularly fascinating use case. As a market that is expected to enjoy a CAGR of nearly 40% between 2020 and 2025 to touch a value of nearly $25 billion, digital twin technology is in its infancy, but expected to grow rapidly. With the metaverse itself a digital twin to our virtual and physical worlds, the enterprise metaverse might be closer than you think.

Twin it to Win it

Digital twins and the metaverse enjoy natural synergies, with the former representing a virtual replica of a real-world product or location. This lends it perfectly to creating immersive simulations in the metaverse, helping with data analysis and high-tech simulations of real-life scenarios. Businesses of all sizes are already deriving value from these complementary technologies — using virtual 3D replicas of objects, operations, assets, places, and systems — and making high-quality decisions in a safe environment.

Take the case of Adobe, famed maker of photo- and video-editing software. The company released a “metaverse playbook” and announced partnerships with Coca Cola, NASCAR, Epic Games, and NVIDIA on an array of metaverse-related projects. Hundreds of brands are already using Adobe’s existing 3D tools to create interactive content, with the company seeing demand for tools used to create photorealistic replicas of their products growing 100% from a year ago.

Even beyond the world of creative services, manufacturing titans are turning to this allencompassing virtual world for insights. The German automaker BMW produces 2.5 million cars a year, with 99% of them customised. With 100 options for each car and more than 40 BMW models, there are over 2,000 ways to configure a new BMW, making them one of the largest custom manufacturers on the planet. BMW used NVIDIA’s Omniverse platform to create a digital twin of its factory floor, allowing diverse team to design and reconfigure its factories in real-time. This optimised production time and cost, and carefully simulated what it’s like to have 300 cars running on a conveyor belt while identifying the safest paths for employees to use around the factory.

Lockheed Martin is another company making use of the Omniverse platform, deploying it for a digital twin of California’s wildfire areas. These visualizations helped fire-behavior analysts model their predictions in a complex virtual simulation of the environment, helping firefighters battle blazes in real life and suggested actions to best suppress the blaze. This has worldwide applications, with climate change blazing lands as far spread as Siberia, Australia, and throughout the Mediterranean.

Companies might well end up conjuring uses for digital twinning and the metaverse beyond anything we’ve imagined so far. What’s important is to always remain innovative, and think of ways to incorporate cutting-edge technologies such as these into your strategy, such as creating digital twins of infrastructure, virtual spaces, digital humans, spatial computing or something else entirely different. The world is your oyster, so get to creating.

“The metaverse and other immersive experiences will only succeed if they are feature-rich, personalized, engaging and have interactive content. To lead in the metaverse, brands should start creating 3D and immersive content now – it will not only prepare them for the future, but make their product design and creation of marketing and e-commerce assets better, faster and cheaper.”

Scott Belsky
Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President
Adobe Creative Cloud

“The capability to operate in a perfect simulation revolutionalizes BMW’s planning processes. The Omniverse will help robots adapt to BMW’s reconfigured factories rapidly, helping us to deploy a fleet of intelligent robots for logistics to improve the material flow in our production, and gives us the chance to simulate the 31 factories in our production network. These new innovations will reduce the planning times, improve flexibility and precision, and at the end produce 30% more efficient planning processes.”

Milan Nedeljković
Member of the Board of Management, BMW AG

 “By creating a virtual world that represents a photorealistic digital environment, we can visualize the fires and aspects that affect them, like the terrain, slope, wind, and more. In the near future, we could generate synthetic data by flying virtual assets through these virtual landscapes. Additionally, these simulations can become the foundation to create additional AI based models to explore response behaviours.”

Shashi Bhushan
Former Principal AI Architect, Lockheed Martin

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