The technology, which involves creating a digital clone of a real-world object or system, is revolutionising the fields of healthcare, manufacturing and logistics. It is now having a profound impact on architecture and urbanism too.
“I see it as being a very powerful way of developing, evolving and designing our cities,” said Mansoor Kazerouni, global director of buildings for Canadian architecture, engineering and planning firm IBI Group.
“The ability to create a digital representation of a building, a neighbourhood or an infrastructure network is powerful because it can inform decision-making throughout the lifecycle of that thing, starting with the design phase,” he told Dezeen. “Simulating data in a digital twin allows us to optimise our design.”
Chinese company 51World has created a digital twin of Shanghai which covers 1,448 square miles
A digital twin can be used to monitor the status of its physical counterpart and predict how it will behave in the future.
The technology has advanced so far that it’s now possible to clone entire cities, for example, Chinese company 51World has created digital twins of Shanghai and Singapore. Architects and designers believe this will revolutionise the design and operation of buildings, transport systems, streetscapes and more.
What sets a digital twin apart from a standard 3D model is that it is linked to a live stream of data, which allows it to evolve in tandem with its real-world sibling.
This means it can offer an accurate analysis of what is happening in the real version, but also to test future performance and assess possible risks. This creates opportunities to improve efficiency, mitigate environmental impact and reduce costs.
“There’s the opportunity for the computer to effectively play out hypothetical scenarios,” said Adam Davies, partner at Foster + Partners. “That becomes really interesting in understanding and projecting how a building might perform.”
Market to reach $48.2 billion by 2026
The use of digital twins is expected to grow extensively in the coming years. A recent study predicts the market will grow from $3.1 billion in 2020 to $48.2 billion by 2026.
This fast-growing trend can be attributed to the increasing availability of data, fuelled by a demand for the knowledge it can provide.
With the rise of the internet of things, sensor technology is increasingly being installed in our homes and workplaces, as well as the physical infrastructure that surrounds us. Meanwhile, cloud computing makes it easier than ever for data to be shared across different devices and networks.
As a result, businesses and other organisations have been able to build up huge volumes of data. Not all of this is private either – online sources such as the London Datastoreare making live data readily available to anyone who wants to use it.
The world’s first 3D-printed stainless steel bridge is embedded with sensors that send data to a digital twin, to measure and analyse the structure’s performance
A digital twin unlocks the potential of this data, allowing users to gain greater understanding and control over a business, system or environment.
“What everybody wants is more control, more knowledge, more data,” said Gijs van der Velden of Amsterdam-based technology company MX3D, who together with The Alan Turing Institute has created a digital twin of the world’s first 3D-printed stainless steel bridge, as a way of testing its performance. […]