October 6, 2023
What if you could just load a digital twin into a virtual environment and instantly interact with it in VR? That's what we are working on together with our partner realvirtual.io!
There are great and natural synergies between the digital twin and VR technologies. To better understand this, let's first take a quick look at what those terms mean.
A 'Digital Twin' refers to a digital replica or a virtual model of a process, product, or service. This pairing of the virtual and physical worlds allows analysis of data and monitoring of systems to head off problems before they even occur, prevent downtime, develop new opportunities, and even plan for the future by using simulations. There are different levels of the completeness of such a twin, with the highest level bringing not only real objects and processes into the digital world but also bringing the digital world back into the real world. This bi-directional connection opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
'Virtual Reality' refers to a computer-generated simulation in which a person can interact within an artificial three-dimensional environment using electronic devices, such as a VR headset or sensors. VR places the user inside an experience, rather than traditional interfaces, which allows the user to be immersed and interact with 3D worlds.
It gets clear from those definitions that the 'digital world' is their natural overlap. While digital twin technology creates the connection of the digital world with the real world, ideally in a bi-directional way, VR technologies allow people to experience and interact in such worlds. Thus, the combination creates the chain: a person experiences and interacts in a virtual world, the virtual world is connected to the real world - leading to the possibility of the person directly experiencing and impacting the real world through the virtual simulation.
Therefore the possibilities vastly extend the potential of simple simulations that only imitate reality.
Together with our partner realvirtual.io, a specialist with 18 years of experience in the field, we are working on an integration between our products to bring this potential to the doorsteps of our clients. This makes it possible for the VR user to actually interact with a digital twin of a real world machine instead of just following an imitation of the virtual object's behavior.
In this video, you can see an example of this. For instance, you need to unlock the door before you can open it. An imitation would simply add those hard constraints and define the process: First press the button, then open the door. Now, with digital twin technology, what happens is that the user presses the button, which sends a sensor signal to the digital twin where the signal is being processed, which results in the door being unlocked.
This might not seem like much of a deal at first sight, but the implications are in fact massive. For one, it is possible to streamline the processes and make it much more efficient to let people experience all your existing digital twins. It further is then possible to simulate all possible error cases and train your employees on how to resolve them. Breaking things has never been cheaper! Lastly, if your digital twins are already bi-directional, it becomes possible to maintain machinery - or even whole production plants - from a distance.