IoT 4 mins read

IoT digital twins and the metaverse: Solving real-world problems

Learn how, in 2022, IoT digital twins will pop up in real-life situations from asset management to helping control climate change.

Bart Schouw Bart Schouw

Internet of Things (IoT) usage, essential to digital transformation for businesses, is proliferating. And one of the primary benefits of IoT, the data, is fundamental to creating digital twins, which in 2022 will increasingly pop up in real-life situations from asset management to helping control climate change.

Here is what you can expect in 2022:

Digital twins fulfill their promise

For years the value of digital twins has been portrayed in the domain of simulation. For example, a digital twin simulates not only the design and manufacture of a product, but also how that product will perform throughout its life. As such, the mysterious life of digital twins has been inexorably intertwined with artificial (AR) and virtual reality (VR), making it difficult for many to understand their uses.

In 2022, IoT digital twins will still fulfill some more mundane roles: For example, cloud-based digital twins will serve predominantly as an asset management environment. This is essentially a hub for storing, accessing, visualizing and analyzing equipment performance data, allowing for non-hierarchical grouping of sensors and their data in near real time.

Doing that at scale will already be a major accomplishment. But this is where the real value of digital twins will start to shine through, fueling the more advanced use cases.

On the back of this, you can expect Graph engines to go more mainstream because of their ease of use in non-hierarchical storage. Also, master data management (MDM) will be something that companies start to explore for managing digital twin inventories over time.

Digital twins will party in the metaverse

The metaverse will be the place where IoT digital twins will come together to party, and you can look forward to seeing some cool examples beginning in 2022. First, let’s debunk a misconception; the idea that virtual scanned objects in the metaverse are digital twins. A scanned object might be the façade of a digital twin, but it is not until it is incorporated with real metadata & live data feeds from sensors overlaid simultaneously that it becomes a digital twin. Linking a physical object in a digital form with overlaid data, allowing for really complex simulations to occur, is what is going to raise the adrenaline.

Who will do this kind of stuff you might wonder? Expect design bureaus to explore the art of the possible, as customers will want to “see” the possibilities. It will take artists and product designers to bring the vision of the metaverse to life. (As a side effect expect a shortage of designers that have the knack to visualize.)

Digital twins combat climate change

The IoT will be instrumental to monitoring, managing and optimizing sustainable power use. The global move to solar and wind power is rapidly accelerating, due to increased regulation and government funding. Recent price increases of traditional energy sources have supercharged the acceleration.

However, decentralized energy generation is not something most electricity grids were designed to handle, and many new solar and wind parks cannot be connected. The grids are getting congested at an alarming speed, blocking further growth of renewables. Even in countries with a mature grid layouts this can happen, like this report shows in the Netherlands.

One solution is by making sure that peak production from solar and wind power is stored in batteries and fed to the grid whenever there is bandwidth to do so. But, for this, it is critical to understand generation predictions, storage optimization, predicted consumption and the utilization of battery capacity.

This is where IoT-powered digital twins come to the rescue. Those twins will rely heavily on real-time data fed to IoT platforms, connected to weather sensors, solar panels, wind turbines, battery management systems and grid systems. They will provide grid operators with the information that can make and keep their networks stable.

Do you have any predictions on how digital twins will change our lives in 2022? Please post your ideas in the comments!

The author wants to thank the crowdsourcing team: Phillip Hooker, Milan Petrovic, Tobias Sommer, Kevin Palfreyman and Muhammed Mokthar for their contributions.