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20 Jun 2022 | Industry Insights

Digital Twins and the Metaverse: Virtual building blocks that build a better reality

Science and technology continue to accelerate at unprecedented rates with digital innovation remaining key to industry and services. Occasionally referred to as web 3.0, building upon the technological advancements of last year, technologists predict 2022 will be a year of considerable metaverse expansion. With the next digital transformation set in motion, the latest discussions consider how the metaverse can best be utilised with society in mind.

Forecast to exhibit a compound annual growth rate of 47.6% from 2022- 2029, the metaverse is a combination of several technologies including software and hardware that will comprise of far-reaching protocols, devices, languages and digital experiences. This new technology spans a spectrum of realities and models. At present, it is most commonly used within the games industry.

In the simplest of terms, the metaverse is an accessible, shared digital layer of the physical world. One more in-depth and widely adopted definition published by author and investor Matthew Ball explains it to be -

An expansive network of persistent and real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users.

Created to immerse players within a virtual realm and provide them with a digital escape, gaming worlds and computer-generated parallel universes are familiar examples of the metaverse in action. In theory, fear of such escapism is nothing new- as critics of increased TV, Internet, and smartphone usage will tell you- but as virtual worlds become more realistic, there becomes a greater potential for overuse and what Ninactic CEO John Hanke describes as a dystopian nightmare. For this reason, modern theorists believe the digital world should not compete with the physical, but instead work harmoniously to improve reality. Therefore, in order to capitalise on the potential of the metaverse, users should remain tethered to reality with the help of digital twins.

Digital twins act as a real-time digital copy of a physical object and are said to be the foundations of which the metaverse will be built on.

So far, the biggest institutional adoption of the metaverse and the digital twin has been from the art, shopping and entertainment industries; however, there are countless opportunities for the AEC industry.

-Quoted from the article, "Digital Twins: Will Architects Embrace the Metaverse" written by Architizer's Michael Piderit

Technological advancements within the metaverse provide the built industry with continual opportunities to adapt and action positive change. Communication and synchronization between the virtual and physical, enable a variety of prognostics and diagnostic opportunities fulfilled by data stores and artificial intelligence.

Technology should be used to make core human experiences better — not to replace them.

-Ninactic Founder and CEO, John Hanke

In this day and age, digital solutions are necessary in encouraging and facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration. Digital twin data stores and tenant apps encourage communication throughout the various stages a buildings lifespan. By providing teams with a source of up-to-date information, digital twins ensure everyone is on the same page from the offset.

The future of building management is paperless as digital twins allow tenants and managers to leave behind unorganised paperwork and archaic filing systems. Instead, accurate building and asset information can now be stored and accessed virtually and physically via real world sensors and QR codes. The pairing of digital replicas with their physical buildings allows estate owners and managers to run simulations using real-life scenarios before making costly decisions.

Founder of XYZ, David Mitchell noted that 80% of construction works are built to a degree of inaccuracy outside of engineering tolerance with 10% built so badly that they must be redone. Not only is inaccuracy and reworking costly and time consuming but it is also damaging to the environment. Digitisation from the offset allows designers to manage material waste and make data-lead decisions that result in more sustainable buildings. Artificial intelligence has the ability to diagnose and advise on what adjustments can be made to decrease energy usage whilst simultaneously generating the most cost-effective provider. Digital twins provide the answer to lowering a buildings carbon emission; not just saving money but also saving the planet.

We need to have a clear vision of what we want our real world to look like to make the most of the opportunities offered by the virtual one.

 -Ed Greig, Chief Disruptor at Deloitte.

Digital twins employ a virtual counterpart to better its physical version via data-lead decision making. By ensuring one foot remains firmly in reality, digital twins represent how the deployment of the metaverse into the built environment can be both productive and valuable. The intersection of digital twins, the metaverse and the physical world is a great place to invest time and resources as the metaverse will continue to reveal itself to be more than a buzzword or fad in the coming years. Used correctly this new technology obtains the potential to become a cultural and societal catalyst for positive change as digital twins help people to prioritise the needs of society and create real-life smart buildings that are safer, cost-effective and point towards a greener future.

Find out more on how you can utilise the metaverse with our advanced digital twin today. Book a demo with Twinview and take one step closer towards optimising your buildings potential.

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