The Metaverse and Digital Twins: A New Frontier for Innovation

The concept of digital twins refers to virtual replicas of physical objects, spaces, or people that can be used to run simulations and enhance production, learning, or training.
Metaverse
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September 14, 2022
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7 minutes
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digital twin
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Randy Ginsburg
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By now, we are no strangers to technology that vastly disrupts the world as we know it. And according to many experts and respected technologists, the metaverse is the next big thing. 

But when? 

Much of the potential of the metaverse revolves around its future adoption that still faces both technical and consumer roadblocks. However, there are a handful of use cases that can drive practical, quantifiable, and demonstrable enterprise metaverse impact today. 

Digital twins are a perfect example. 

What Is a Digital Twin? 

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or entity that uses real-world data to predict how a product or process will perform. Much of the beauty of a digital twin lies in its live and dynamic nature, meaning that it is automatically updated every time its real-world twin undergoes any changes. 

These blazingly fast, but complex models are created using a combination of visualization technologies like 3D modeling and AR which receive and display data from IoT devices and embedded sensors. 

First emerging in the world of manufacturing and product development, digital twins can be broken down into three main subcategories: product twins, process twins, and system twins. As the names suggest, product twins simulate separate objects, while process twins are responsible for process simulations, and system twins are representations of entire entities like factories, storefronts, or cities. 

These digital twins help enterprises save time, money, and effort by streamlining design processes, eliminating risk, shortening the product life cycle, and enhancing predictive maintenance. 

Metaverse Digital Twins

As the lines between the digital and physical worlds become increasingly blurred, digital twins are widely expected to serve as cornerstones of metaverse interaction, empowering users to interact and innovate within immersive digital worlds. But to facilitate the real-time processing and time-sensitive decision-making needed for digital twins to reach their full potential, digital twins require the processing of droves of real-time data. And that’s exactly where artificial intelligence comes in.

Once sensors and IoT-enabled devices collect data, it’s uploaded to an IoT cloud platform to be processed and then further analyzed by AI or machine learning algorithms to determine future scenarios. Tack on additional AI natural language processing and computer vision, and these digital twins will transform the enterprise metaverse through a wide range of use cases. 

Let’s explore a bit further.

Examples of Digital Twins

A virtual venue in the Touchcast metaverse

Virtual Events

At the peak of the pandemic and with in-person events at a standstill, multinational Japanese technology firm Konica Minolta needed to find a way to bring together over 1,000 partners and clients for its 2022 Annual Dealer Summit. Leveraging Touchcast’s MaaS platform, Konica Minolta built a digital twin of its Client Engagement Center in Ramsey, New Jersey, creating a high-fidelity rendering of the building exterior, lobby, and print showrooms, along with digital twins and video demonstrations of each printer. The virtual event brought together thousands of attendees from the comfort of their homes, while reducing costs, saving time, and improving carbon emissions output. 

“It actually worked out perfectly, where we were able to broadcast to remote viewers, as well as bring in some of the more targeted dealer partners and create an onsite experience for them that would really be impactful and continue to build relationships,” explains Kay Fernandez, Senior Vice President of Marketing. 

Manufacturing

As mentioned earlier, many companies are creating immersive real-time simulations of production facilities, manufacturing plants, and factories to identify issues and improvements in the design and production process. Companies like Boeing, Airbus, and BMW have already begun to leverage digital twins to reduce design validation time, accelerate production assembly, and audit end-to-end manufacturing operations all without interrupting the real-world supply chain. 

Healthcare

Digital twins can assist with surgery and diagnosis as well as medical device production. When coupled with augmented and virtual reality, digital twins can help current and future doctors practice procedures before performing them, improve the efficiency of care delivery models, and learn more about the human body. 

Smart Cities 

Co-led by the National Research Foundation, the Singapore Land Authority, and the Government Technology Agency, Virtual Singapore is a 3D virtual twin of Singapore built with a combination of topical and real-time dynamic data around air quality, energy consumption, vehicle usage, and more. These systems help provide governments with valuable data used to improve social infrastructure, bolster innovation, and keep citizens safe. Recognizing the potential of this technology, Seoul has announced the investment of $3.3 million into Metaverse Seoul, an effort that combines digital twins, VR, and AI to improve city services, planning, administration, and support for virtual tourism. 

Retail

By using high-fidelity digital twins of brick-and-mortar stores, companies can better showcase their products and services to prospective customers. This allows companies to provide an immersive and convenient opportunity for brands to meet customers where they are, enabling them to shop from the comfort of their own homes. 

The goal? Remove friction from the sales process. Instead of needing to come into a Microsoft store to check out a laptop, customers now can visit a metaverse location (digital twin) where they can converse in real-time with a live associate. With the help of NLP and advanced neural network architecture, the prospective customer will be guided through a personalized sales journey with the virtual environment rendering products in real-time based on a customer’s data or voice input. Even better, the sales teams can quickly pull up data and use augmented visualizations to compare product offerings, give demos, and better communicate with their customers. 

While much of the potential of digital twins is yet to be realized, there are still ample, present use cases for businesses of all sizes. And as the metaverse continues to evolve, the last thing you want is for your business to be stuck in the past.

That’s why Touchcast is proud to offer Metaverse-as-a-service (MaaS) for the enterprise metaverse. We offer adaptive metaverse solutions for a wide range of use cases, including immersive metaverse experiences where enterprise businesses can build digital twins of their offices and retail storefronts, host events, and provide both customers and employees with unforgettable digital experiences.

Learn more about the enterprise metaverse by subscribing to our blog on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

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