While advanced technologists race to recreate physical objects and systems on a virtual interface (i.e. Digital Twins), a fully developed digital replica is constructed in order for it to be used for future testing, development, and experimentation. In other words, it’s a digital replica or a clone that provides its creators with the ability to interact with it on a digital platform instead of executing tests on the real physical “twin” in reality. It works by utilising IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Data Analytics. Digital Twin concept first came up at NASA for the purpose of full-scale mockups of early space capsules, used on the ground to mirror and diagnose problems in orbit, eventually gave way to fully digital simulations.
The arguments and justifications for thriving the Digital Twinning market and usability is that it is a more efficient way of testing and prototyping, even predicting new and or improved products. The Economists a few years ago published an article on how millions of things will soon have digital twins – from buildings, factories, healthcare, pharmaceutical, to cars, gadgets and a range of consumer products. Now it stands at an estimated 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints. When the logic applies the opposite way – a twin for an existing product or entity – the promise of cloning (a better version of) oneself to exist infinitely is desirable. Then it raises the question as to how it will affect the existence of the original product or item itself. The more a digital twin can duplicate the physical object, can it create another object that replaces the original ? It depends on the type of the object. A type of simple object with straight-forward behaviour predictability and novice pattern recognition with mainstream design can potentially be easily replicated and replaced. But a highly-complicated, lightspeed-fast connectivity type of object with gazillion hyperconnected sensors run through it with a unique design, will be impossible to replicate or replace.
Also worth-mentioning, there are still some fundamental issues faced by product owners surrounding the adoption of Digital Twinning. One, security : if some unauthorised person gains access to your digital twin object, they could get insights into the main system and get full control of it. Two, misrepresentation : the drawbacks of inaccurately creating the digital twin, hence it may look and behave similar (or erratically) but it is in actual a different-functioning twin. There are methods to address these persisting issues, and it should not deter the further-development of Digital Twinning. Used correctly and ethically, the advantages outweigh the downsides. Just make sure when the time eventually comes where Digital Twinning can be applied commercially beyond existing standard of ethics, any goal and objective agreement as well as synchronisation should be sealed and strictly honoured without time limitation.
Source: various, includes author’s view