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What is a Digital Twin?

Jun 29, 2021

4 min read

By: Cara Hueston

A guide to Digital Twins: what they are, why they're used, their connection to the indoors, and how to get started.

What is a Digital Twin? 

A Digital Twin is a virtual representation of something in the physical world - a product, service, or even process. These digital clones use real-time data and allow us to analyze, manipulate, optimize, and better understand these physical items.  

What do I need to know about Digital Twins? 

Digital Twins help businesses understand how products, services, and workflows are performing today and give new insights into how these things will perform in the future. This, in turn, allows organizations to learn more and at a much faster speed, allowing them to be proactive instead of reactive. By creating and maintaining this digital clone, businesses can greatly improve their data-driven decision making and find new efficiencies. 

For every physical asset in the world, we have a virtual copy running in the cloud that gets richer with every second of operational data.

- Ganesh Bell, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager of Software & Analytics at GE Power & Water

Along with providing detailed datasets, Digital Twins can increase productivity, lower maintenance costs, reduce production times, and improve customer satisfaction. 

How are Digital Twins being used?

Traditionally, Digital Twins have been used to improve efficiencies in mechanically complex projects such as jet turbines, automobiles, aircrafts, and the like. In more recent years, however, their use case has become more complex. Not only can Digital Twins represent one asset, but an entire system of them which allows this technology to be used across a variety of new industries. We know that Digital Twins can be used in automotive, manufacturing, and urban planning sectors, but what about the indoors? These digital assets provide incredible opportunities in commercial real estate buildings, offices, stadiums, and more.  

Digital Twins and indoor maps

The Digital Twin of a building is often represented by a digital indoor map of that space. This will include a visual representation of all points of interest and their associated location data and assets, separated by floor and even building in a multi-structure venue. The incredible thing about creating a Digital Twin of the indoors is that it exists to serve two main groups: the end user of the software (i.e. someone looking to populate indoor directions) and the building owners and operators who can create new experiences and efficiencies from the data and analytics captured.   

Digital Twins in office buildings 

Building owners and operators can use Digital Twins to visualize their indoor space and unify previously disconnected systems. Indoor maps for offices provide a clear representation of the indoor space and its contents, everything from meeting rooms to office amenities, even down to individual desks. Buildings can integrate other workplace services such as security, HVAC, and lighting and monitor them from a centralized location. The Digital Twin of an office building has a number of benefits:

  • Building automation

  • Energy management 

  • Workflow optimization

  • Remote service monitoring 

  • Detailed insights and analytics 

  • Improvements to workplace productivity 

Digital Twins in retail 

Retailers can take advantage of a Digital Twin to enhance the customer experience, optimize store layouts, track inventory, and more and the use cases include shopping malls, traditional retailers, as well as grocery stores. A digital indoor map provides shoppers with an interactive way to browse the store, understand the layout, and locate products. Store teams are able to collect valuable data on shopper intent to make informed business decisions. This Digital Twin can be integrated with inventory management systems, customer loyalty apps, and other extensions of the retailer for further optimizations. 

How can I get started with a Digital Twin strategy? 

To get started with a Digital Twin strategy for indoor environments, your business should have a clear understanding of your goals. Do you want to better understand how your indoor space is being used? Do you want to layer on additional experiences? Perhaps a more efficient way of managing venue data? Once you understand this, consider partnering with an expert in this field. Mappedin creates mapping-based Digital Twins of venues across a wide variety of industries. These digital indoor maps have robust functionality and power unique experiences. With a Map Editor platform, your organization can maintain the Digital Twin of your building as things change.

Book a demo with us to learn more about creating a Digital Twin strategy.