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18 Jun 2020 | Industry Insights

Digital Quadruplets

Twinview Co-founder, Rob Charlton asks: "What if we connected the building digital twin to the human digital twin. Is this a digital quadruplet?"

Throughout my life there have been things which I have become particularly obsessed with. In my early teens it was the CB radio and BMX bikes, a few years later, girls and alcohol.

At university the fascination was having a good time whilst doing just enough to be able to stay for another year.

At work I became fascinated by the impact digitisation could have on the construction sector which subsequently became BIM. Alongside this, with Spacehus, I briefly dabbled with offsite construction but gave up when I realised it was too soon.

More recently it is Digital Twins which is exercising me and more specifically how a building data can make a positive impact on society and the environment.

Im going real hard core by trying to understand Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. (This from a guy who only managed a C at O Level Maths)

The Human Digital Twin

 If we are all agreed (some may not but I’ll leave it to them to argue amongst themselves) that a digital twin is "a dynamic digital representation of the physical," why stop at buildings. What about a human being as a digital twin? After all we collect huge amounts of data about ourselves, available in real time.

With increasingly sophisticated wearable devices such as the apple watch and fit bit we can easily track exercise, our heart rate or the quality of our sleep. Apps such as Strava and My Fitness Pal go into even more detail. There are even mindfulness apps which monitor mental health.

However these are separate platforms operating independently. What if we brought this information together and used Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence to identify patterns and learn about our physical and mental health? Maybe we could add triggers or use data for "predictive human maintenance."

Maybe we could identify the perfect diet unique to ourselves or predict illness in advance.

The Centre for Digital Built Britain is developing a National Digital Twin for buildings, why not have one for humans. Data storage and processing is cheap and commoditised which would allow us to collect huge amounts of data on individuals which we could then use to improve our health and in turn take pressure off the NHS.

 The Digital Quadruplet 

So let’s take it to the next level, what if we connected the building digital twin to the human digital twin. Is this a digital quadruplet?

Building Twins do record some impact humans have on building performance, however they know little about an individual. They don’t know how that person is “operating” and therefore are not aware of the impact of the environment upon them.

All of this seems far fetched but worth exploring as there is potentially some interesting use cases. Take for example autism, what if we could understand how an environment impacts on someones mental, we could adjust the space automatically by reducing lighting, temperature or noise for example

For those with dementia we could adjust a space to suit a particular mood by opening a window, changing the temperature or noise level, continuously learning how to improve the environment at an individual level.

Commercially, a work environment could learn and adjust to achieve the optimum environment for an activity.

We could monitor space utilisation to understand how this effects wellbeing. Using flexible furniture, layouts could be monitored and changed regularly to optimise use of space.

Using objective data to improve how we live and work could have a huge impact on society, particularly when mental health problems cost employers between £33bn and £42bn a year.

 Food for thought.