What role do digital twins play in the metaverse?
Following on from an article I recently wrote about the industrial metaverse, I would like to shed light on this question in this article.
First of all, we need a rough understanding of the term digital twin. I myself have a professional IT background with a strong focus on manufacturing. Since about 2011, there has been an effort to reach the next evolutionary stage of the industry by means of digitization.
Digital twins are an important part of this.
A digital twin is a non-physical representation of a physical thing. It connects both worlds – the physical and the cyber world. All relevant data about the physical object, usually a product, is stored. This applies to the entire product life cycle:
Such a product can be, for example, a production machine such as a pick-and-place machine in electronics production. This has the task of placing components such as integrated circuits on a printed circuit board.
Depending on the product life cycle, the digital twin of this production machine can then provide a wide variety of information or even interact with the product.
This can be done, for example, through a standardized Asset Administration Shell. Today, however, this is not yet the rule; here, most production plants are addressed via heterogeneous data formats.
Specifically in our example, in the Sales cycle the digital twin could provide the millimeter-accurate dimensions of the pick-and-place machine for the customer. This would greatly facilitate virtual factory or line planning. Especially if this, too, were to happen in the same format for all manufacturers.
Here we talk about portability. This concept will become interesting again later when we go into the merging of digital twins and the metaverse.
In the Operation cycle, i.e. operation, completely different information is interesting. Here, for example, we want to know the performance of the placement machine (OEE), how many pieces were produced, how long it will continue to produce, or when maintenance is necessary in the foresight (predictive maintenance).
Digital Twins In The Metaverse
When we looked at the definition of digital twins at the beginning of the article, I wrote that they connect the real and digital worlds.
That is the very definition of the Metaverse, as I show in this foundational article.
Today, the potential of this fusion is already evident in the area of art on the blockchain, known as NFTs.
From my perspective, NFTs are a subset of digital twins. If I were an art collector myself, I would like to have my artwork not only as a jpg or blockchain address, but also in physical form on my wall.
Here, the NFT scene is still in its infancy, but the first startups have already recognized the potential of physical NFTs.
Gaming could be a Catalyst
NFTs in the field of gaming are a completely different topic. Gamers usually react very negatively to this. But already today, in-game purchases such as armor or swords are absolutely commonplace.
Large corporations like Adidas have recognized the potential and it probably won’t be long before your gaming avatar is running around with the same sneakers you wear in real life. And this across games.
Today, in-game purchases are limited to the respective game. In the future, we will see NFTs and digital twins that can be transferred between different digital worlds. Ultimately, the network effect could lead to a situation where there are only a few metaverses, which may be politically separated.
But until then, portability through standardization will be a very important feature of NFTs and Digital Twins. This brings us back to the notion of portability from our section on digital twins, and it’s a wonderful transition.
The metaverse I envision will be shaped by digital twins. Not least by ourselves. Of course, there will be all the freedoms and only our own creativity will set limits.
But even so, more and more data about us and our surroundings will be simultaneously available online. IoT here we go.
These scenarios will require incredible computing power, as I predict in this article. In this context, I am reminded of the interview with Anja Hendel, who attributes to quantum computers the potential to simulate any process in nature.
What do you think Digital Twins in the Metaverse? Where are we heading? Let me know here or on Twitter.
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Header Image Source: Pixabay, Pixabay License