Skip to main content

Blog | 18 June 2024

Digital twin technology

Digital twin technology

A digital model upon which planning, decisions, and business processes can be based, might sound too good to be true. Yet, it's entirely possible with a digital twin. Utilising real-world data, a model is created that mirrors reality precisely. Within this model, changes can be made and simulations run, offering endless possibilities.

The concept of the Digital Twin was introduced in 2002 by Michael Grieves. A digital twin is, quite literally, a digital double of objects from the real world.

Digital twinning involves generating a digital copy of reality. In a digital twin model, lifelike visualisations can be performed to gain new insights, find better solutions, and garner more support for decision-making. And the best part is that you don't need to be an expert to use digital twins to create software, build a knowledge base, or run simulations.

How do digital twins work?

Cloud computing, the internet of things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence play crucial roles in digital twin technology. This tech provides a mirrored image of physical objects, such as a building or machine, and is key in automation for performing advanced analysis and enhancing efficiency.

Digital twins represent one of the most intriguing developments in technology today. At its core, a digital twin is a digital representation or digital model of a physical object, system, or process. The digital twin technology leverages real time data, sensor data, operational data, and historical data to create a dynamic virtual model that mirrors its real-world counterpart in every aspect.

Digital twins in design and development

Before a physical object is built, a digital twin prototype can be created to explore different design options and functionalities. This virtual representation allows for adjustments and optimizations to be made early in the design process, significantly reducing the need for physical prototypes and speeding up the development cycle.

For existing physical systems or processes, digital twins utilize sensor data to provide real time data feeds into the digital model. This setup enables the monitoring of the system's performance and health in real-time. By analyzing this data, predictive maintenance can be scheduled to prevent failures and downtime, and operational efficiency can be enhanced through the optimization of processes.

Digital twins for simulation and analysis

The digital twin concept excels in its ability to run simulations on the virtual model using both real time data and historical data. These simulations can test how the system behaves under various conditions or scenarios, offering invaluable insights into potential improvements, emergency preparedness, and future developments without risking the actual system.

Developing digital twins opens the door to integrating disparate systems into a cohesive digital representation. For industries ranging from manufacturing to urban planning, this integration can lead to innovative solutions that improve product quality, enhance city services, or even create new business models.

A digital twin for training and education

Digital twins offer a safe and effective environment for training personnel on complex systems without the risks associated with operating physical equipment. This virtual model can be used to familiarize new employees with machinery, processes, or systems, ensuring they have the skills and understanding needed before engaging with the actual equipment.

Also in the consumer space, digital twins of products allow customers to interact with a virtual representation before making a purchase. Additionally, customer feedback can be integrated into the digital twin to customize the product or service to better meet individual needs and preferences.

The Cyclomedia digital twin model

Did you know that Cyclomedia can eliminate most of the drawbacks associated with creating and maintaining a digital twin? We set up and manage the model in our cloud-based product, ensuring all information is updated at least once a year. This approach guarantees that up-to-date models are always available. We possess the expertise to build accurate models that simulate real-life situations effectively.

Curious about what’s possible? Get in touch with us directly for more information.

Contact us

3D for a Digital Twin Prototype

In Cyclomedia's 3D technology, we've virtually mapped the entirety of the UK. This product provides access to the most realistic digital representation of reality available. The virtual environment combines aerial data from photographs and point clouds taken from aircraft. Using a mesh mixer, this data is merged into a realistic representation of the entire UK. This model can then be applied in a digital twin.

The digital twins of all cities, areas, and public spaces in the UK are now at your disposal. The data is updated annually, providing you with a 'near' real-time model.

Applications of digital twin simulations

With the addition of the 3D software to Cyclomedia’s existing products and datasets, you gain an even clearer view of the external world from a digital environment. You can visualize and simulate plans, presenting them to business partners, investors, and citizens to inform them and gain their support. The applications of the 3D software are truly endless. Utilizing artificial intelligence, a variety of simulations can be performed in the digital twin technology.

Next to that, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has transformed how we visualize and interact with our spatial environment. Our sophisticated digital twin technology leverages this transformation by allowing users to conduct comprehensive GIS Analysis. This tool enables planners and environmentalists to visualize any desired location in unprecedented detail and combine it with other geographical data by providing a rich, layered understanding of urban and natural landscapes.

Solving a variety of challenges to urban areas due to climate change

Think of flooding and heatwaves, drought and inundation. The Climate Stress Test feature of our national digital twin addresses these challenges head-on. By identifying potential vulnerabilities within a planning area, stakeholders can make informed decisions to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. This proactive approach allows for the development of resilience strategies that protect communities and ecosystems against the increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related issues.

Sun and shadow analysis in the digital model

Solar energy potential and the impact of new constructions on sunlight access are critical considerations in sustainable urban development. The Sun and Shadow Analyses capability within the software empowers users to simulate the sun's position at any time of the year.

This feature is invaluable for assessing solar capacity for renewable energy projects and ensuring that high-rise developments do not adversely affect the sunlight access of surrounding areas. Such analyses help balance the need for urban densification with the preservation of light and air quality for residents.

Digital twins in smart cities

Managing large-scale events and ensuring public safety requires meticulous planning and understanding of pedestrian dynamics. The Pedestrian Analyses function in our software simulates busy events, allowing organizers to gather data on crowd control and identify potential bottlenecks. This foresight is essential in designing event spaces that facilitate smooth movement and enhance safety for participants.

More than built-in functions in our digital representation

Moreover, the flexibility of the 3D digital twin software extends beyond its in-built functions. The data generated can be easily downloaded and exported to other applications, enhancing interoperability and enabling further analysis and visualization in specialized software. This integration underscores the utility as a versatile tool in the arsenal of urban planners, environmentalists, and event organizers, supporting a wide range of analyses and planning activities to create more resilient, sustainable, and livable urban environments.

Urban development example of how digital twins work

A local government is considering the development of a new mixed-use area that will include residential buildings, shops, and parks. By using the digital twin provided by Cyclomedia, planners can import the proposed designs into the digital twin environment. Here, they can perform sun and shadow analyses to determine the impact of new buildings on sunlight exposure for existing homes and public spaces. This helps in redesigning the layout to optimize sunlight for both new and existing structures, enhancing residents' quality of life.

Digital twin strategies in the face of natural disasters

Or imagine a scenario where a city wants to improve its emergency response strategies in the face of natural disasters. By employing Cyclomedia’s digital twin technology, city officials can simulate flooding events based on historical and predictive data. This allows them to identify critical infrastructure at risk and plan evacuation routes effectively. Pedestrian analyses can simulate the movement of people during an emergency, helping officials to devise crowd control measures that ensure safe and orderly evacuations.

Safer cities thanks to digital twin software

In both examples, Cyclomedia’s digital twin technology enables stakeholders to make informed decisions, backed by accurate simulations and analyses. This capability is transforming how we plan, build, and manage our urban environments, making them safer, more efficient, and responsive to the needs of their inhabitants.

In Cyclomedia's 3DNL, you can perform measurements with centimeter accuracy on all visible objects in the real world. You can measure anything, such as the width, height, and slopes of buildings, roads, streets, water bodies, and other public space objects.

Determine the angle at which a crane should be positioned, how wide a tunnel can be, or how much space is available for a new housing complex, all without sending anyone to the location. No more manual measurements, but rather working with digital models derived from 3DNL data.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Developing new construction isn't always straightforward. Predicting the impact of a design on existing buildings alone can be challenging and is often used as a counterargument. With 3DNL digital twin technology, effortlessly visualizing new buildings within an existing environment is possible. This way, you can involve citizens and stakeholders in the plans and also inventory objects in public spaces.

3DNL makes it easy to envision what reality will look like after a project's completion. This is beneficial for holding informative meetings to share your plans.

Visibility analyses with digital twins

Digital twins significantly improve sightline analyses. With a digital twin, it's possible to determine from any desired position in the municipality the impact of a new object in public space.

In just a few clicks, you can quickly and accurately overview the situation in three dimensions. From the exact view from a house to the potential obstruction of a newly planned office building, and from the reach of a transmitter mast to the positioning of cameras for surveillance and enforcement.

Digital twin software for your organisation

Digital twins and system twins can and will help teams to easily integrate and synchronize data and workflows. At Cyclomedia, we offer a comprehensive and streamlined digital twins solution. As we cover every aspect of the digital twin integration cycle, we can support diverse organizations and teams in building and enhancing their digital twins. We are ready to implement our digital twin technology in your organization as well.

Digital twins in construction

Digital twins provide project teams with direct access to crucial real world information in real-time. This leads to faster and easier collaboration between stakeholders, increased productivity, more efficient workflows between contractors and craftsmen, and a reduction in problems and requests for information.

By incorporating and optimizing digital twins in the construction process, contractors, architectural firms, and other professionals can tackle many challenges in their work, such as low productivity, profitability, and more. Digital twins can also help to reduce costs for virtual design and construction, thereby winning more tenders. This is not the only way a digital version of an actual physical object steers organisations forward.

This approach shows the digital transformation in industries like the construction industry and the automotive industry, leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning capabilities, and a high-quality data infrastructure to improve asset performance and predictive capabilities.

The future of digital twins

The future possibilities of digital twin technology are vast and varied. As sensor data becomes more important and real time data processing more advanced, digital twins will become increasingly sophisticated, offering even more accurate virtual representations. This progress will both enhance current applications but also unlock new uses for digital twins in sectors not yet explored.

Digital twins serve as a bridge between the physical and digital worlds, providing a dynamic, detailed, and actionable digital representation of physical objects and systems. Through the influx of data and the application of analytics, digital twins enable businesses and organizations to make more informed decisions, predict future trends, and innovate in ways previously unimaginable.

The creation of asset twins for every physical asset within these sectors shows the growing importance of ownership and governance structures in managing and utilizing digital models effectively.

Want to know more about the technology? Get in touch!

Contact us!