• Much of the focus and hype regarding the digital world has been limited to providing immersive consumer entertainment.
• While the world awaits the metaverse, companies such as Siemens and Nvidia are building the software and hardware that helps businesses take advantage of digital technology.
The naming game that accompanies the introduction of new technologies can confuse end-users and perhaps impede adoption. The words virtual reality, augmented reality, and metaverse all describe a concept first introduced by Yale Computer Science Professor David Gelernter. In his 1992 book, Mirror Worlds, Gelernter describes a virtual, immersive world where many aspects of public life exist online as an extension and mirror or twin to the physical world. Although Professor Gelernter defined the notion of digital twinning, the roots of twinning go back to the Apollo space program as NASA built a physical twin for each spacecraft headed to the moon for troubleshooting purposes. The existence of this physical twin proved invaluable in returning the damaged Apollo 13 safely to earth.
Besides replicating reality, twinning can help remove the limits imposed on remote operations. For instance, the twinning of a bulldozer’s control cab removes the need for an operator to be physically present to drive the bulldozer during a construction project. This can be useful in eliminating delays caused by shortages of qualified drivers should they become sick or injured. Digital twinning can also train new employees, help perform remote maintenance, and provide a realistic experience for potential buyers.
On June 30, 2022 Siemens announced that it was expanding its Xcelerator program, a curated platform of digital services and partnerships, to include Nvidia. This partnership will create simulations that close the gap between the real world and the digital world. To utilize the platform, companies will connect to NVIDIA Omniverse and Siemens Xcelerator platforms to enable digital twinning and also connect software-defined AI systems from edge to cloud. The partnership, especially when deployed as a cloud-based service, will accelerate the use of digital twins by making them affordable to more businesses. The use of digital twins helps companies obtain dynamic and actionable insights from immersive simulations that are now more visually accessible due to the Nvidia Omniverse platform, which utilizes Pixar’s Universal Scene Description software. Visual clarity integrated with a robust AI platform is essential to the success of any twinning platform. Siemens has a number of partnerships with companies that supply digital twinning technology, providing a one-stop-shop approach and a competitive edge; partners include Accenture, Amazon Web Services, Atos, and Microsoft.
Siemens is also looking to make its technology such as twinning available to small and medium-sized businesses as part of its platform-as-a-service. Siemens is looking to transition itself from a supplier of things to a supplier of services. Siemen’s twinning effort should benefit from this transition as companies of all sizes will benefit from the technology and services delivery platform.