Serious XR and Digital Twins – An Interesting Use Case

What is Serious XR?

Serious XR is what we call business applications of Extended Reality. As a reminder, Extended Reality (XR) is a catchall term for Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. You can read more about it here.

If you’re using Virtual Reality for prototyping, Augmented Reality for real time systems monitoring, or Mixed Reality for employee training, you’re using Serious XR.

What is a Digital Twin?

So what is a Digital Twin? It’s a virtual replica of a real world system that shows realtime performance data. There was a great post in The Manufacturer that discusses this exact topic.

“Essentially, they {digital twins} are digital renderings of physical equipment, displayed on a headset, computer, tablet, or other device, showing real-time data about a range of measures: from its condition and historic performance, to its current position and any external factors acting on it.”

Imagine something like a virtual wind turbine. Now add performance data displayed in realtime on the model and you’re on the right track.

What’s the Big Deal?

As the article points out, Digital Twins were only for high value assets i.e. things that cost a lot of money. Digital Twins were expensive to create and the equipment needed to use them was expensive too. As a result, Digital Twins were only used for things like aircraft engines and other complex systems.

3D creation tools have become cheaper and easier to use. High quality XR systems are relatively affordable. At the same time, the variety and availability of inexpensive sensors has dramatically increased, thanks to smartphones and the Internet-of-Things.

As a result it’s never been easier or cheaper to create a Digital Twin. And that means you can start using Digital Twins for all kinds of products and processes.

An Example

At Autodesk’s ForgeCon last summer, they showed a demo of a visualization tool for building management. They took a real world office building, where each office in the building had its own temperature sensor. Autodesk created a virtual model of the real office space and added the realtime temperature readings as a literal heat-map right on the virtual model. They shaded the walls of each office according to the temperature in that room.

Now imagine you are responsible for the building’s HVAC. Maybe you’re off-site? And maybe you manage multiple buildings. Would you gain anything by being able to walk through the virtual model and see the heat data displayed around you? Of course!

Or perhaps you’d rather walk through the real building and see the data displayed around you? That’s a great use case for Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality.

In Conclusion

It has never been cheaper or easier to instrument the real world and gather data. Furthermore, displaying that data in a virtual environment has never been easier. Combining sensor data with today’s tools for creating immersive visual environments is just one of many inexpensive and powerful use cases for Serious XR.

P.s. Finally, go ahead and check out the article at The Manufacturer. It’s a good read.

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