Digital Twin Technologies: The Game Changer in 2020

Have you heard about the latest technology trend “digital twin?” While it is not a new idea, the term has been gaining huge momentum in the modern era. The concept has been in existence since the initial days of in-depth space exploration. However, with improved connectivity along with the advent of high-end technologies like IoT and Virtual Reality (VR), the overall hype around the technology of the digital twin has been spreading lately.

It has been revealed that the digital twin technology is expected to grow from $1.8 million to reach around $13.5 million by the time of 2025. 

What is the Digital Twin Technology?

A digital twin can be stated in terms of a visual representation of some physical system, process or object. The fact that makes this technology so interesting and functional is that real-time data from meters, sensors and other relevant sources can be utilised for informing the respective digital copies of the given assets in a typical virtual space. This allows for the overall monitoring as well as analysis and opportunities for optimisation, future simulation and machine learning.

Importance of the Digital Twin 

For the upcoming future, the concept of the digital twin helps in providing the most value in equipment management. The digital twin is also capable of providing property managers as well as building engineers the capability of:

  • Visualising and monitoring building equipment along with systems in real-time
  • Connecting contrasting systems and promoting traceability through a common digital thread
  • Optimising building operations with top-end predictive analysis
  • Troubleshooting equipment from some distance

The given insights into the inner system of buildings and how the same can be improved could imply major savings in maintenance repairs, operations, utility consumption, and optimised IoT-based asset performance.

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Outbreak of the Digital Twin Technology

Just like other high-end technologies such as blockchain, the technology of the digital twin is also estimated to be utilised in a myriad of industry verticals. The overall use of digital twins is going to extend much beyond the concept of commercial real estate – reaching far into other industries including city planning, manufacturing, healthcare and marketing, to name a few. 

As per a recent study, it is estimated that around 21 billion connected endpoints and sensors by the end of 2020 will be existing for the digital twin technology. While the overall assurance of such predictions are yet to be analysed, businesses are still excited about what this would imply for the commercial real estate industry. 

For example, when digital twins are amalgamated with VR technology, the natural interaction and immersive views that VR technology has to offer might ensure tweaking designs to make the same less cumbersome and more intuitive. At the same time, simulations can be implemented in real time for observing what the given product in action would appear – enabling rapid-speed design phases. 

We recently interviewed digital transformation influencer Antonio Grasso. In our chat Grasso explores the opportunities of the digital twin for businesses in the future. Read more about the digital twin and our chat with Antonio here

Industry Insights with Antonio Grasso

Appearition was very fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with the insightful and thought-provoking Antonio Grasso to chat about all things digital transformation, digital technology adoption and the rapid development of technologies enabling it’s users to perform powerful tasks.

Antonio Grasso is the founder and CEO of Italian company Digital Business Innovation srl. Antonio is a expert in the digital technology world and highly regarded as one of the top digital transformation influencers on Artificial Intelligence, cyber security, digital transformation, Internet of Things, and blockchain. He is an advisor, enterprise and public sector consultant and mentor to numerous startups.

The following Q&A has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

A: Antonio, tell us a little bit about how you’ve been spending your time during lockdown. Unfortunately in Melbourne we have just been placed into further lockdown measures. Italy faced challenges early on in the pandemic. What was this experience like for you?

AG: I am very fortunate because so much of my work and documents is stored in the cloud, so it has not been so much of a change whether I work from the office or home. Although some activities stopped, the majority of my activities were performed and fulfilled as normal.  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was travelling and attending events and suddenly everything has moved online. In terms of my work I consider myself a very lucky guy as I have been able to continue as usual, however many others have struggled due to the closure of shops, restaurants, recreational activities and entertainment. So, yes I am very lucky in this context as it has not changed too much for me.

A: You are well known in the digital technologies space and highly regarded for your work and advice. What drives you to play in this space and what brought you to work in this exciting area?

AG: I have always had a strong passion for technology. 37 years ago when I was a software developer, I began to feel a strong link with my work and the desire to explore. About 10 years ago, digital technology began to emerge thanks to digital infusion like the introduction of iPhones. No longer was it just a mobile phone, but now a computer – small yes, but very powerful. About 3 years ago, I started to share information on my social media channels and that was amazing because it was a shift in my job. Now, I split my time between running my company and online activity with my followers, 50:50. I publish educational posts, I create infographs, I try to give other people something to think about, something to discover. My relationship with technology, it’s a passion, it’s something that I have in my heart and in my mind.

A: When you were growing up, was there a certain turning point in your life that influenced your passion for technology?

AG: In the 1970’s when I was young, we had no digital technology. I was always interested in machines; so I pulled apart and destroyed every machine I played with to discover the inner mechanisms. In the 80’s and 90’s, I began to work with many other types of technologies. At the time computers and hard disks were very big compared to now. So it was different, but the relationship was the same every time – always keen to discover what was happening inside.

“My relationship with technology, it’s a passion, it’s something that I have in my heart and in my mind.”

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A: You have worked in the digital technology space for many years now. Across your years in the technology space, what has been the greatest piece of digital technology advice you have been given?

AG: When I started 37 years ago, computers and software were a lever – you know a lever helps you do your task better and faster. If you need to do reports, accounting, invoices, payments, you can begin to do this all very fast with the software. That was the previous technology, but now we are starting to see a shift. The role of technology is changing, it is no longer just a lever that helps you do your tasks better but an enabler. So, my advice is to think about the role of technology, not only, does it leverage you to do things faster, but also, what it can enable. What new product can enable you to do something you could not do before. When we think of digitalisation, it allows your product or service to become digital. For example, the streaming of video is changing the entertainment movie market, as it is creating something that before did not exist. This is possible thanks to digital infusion.

Digital infusion is phenomenal at bringing technology to our fingertips. Not only is it bringing technology as a lever but also as an enabler. An enabler for new things, new markets, new opportunities. So the approach needs to be holistic, a 360 degree approach. With purchase automation you can fulfil the customers purchase very quickly due to new technologies. It is creating new opportunities; new sources of revenue, new products, it’s amazing.

“The role of technology is changing, it is no longer just a lever that helps you do your tasks better but an enabler.”

A: How consumers interact with your business has changed. With that, traditional product development methods need to change. A world class digital experience is expected. What should business leaders consider when it comes to product development? What technologies should be at the forefront of consideration?

AG: It depends on the industry, one side does not fit all in this case. When we talk about product development, one thing that comes to mind is one of the latest developments of the digital twin. The digital twin is something that is unbelievable, it really helps the product development stage. When you develop a product, you need to also develop a prototype, this prototype is usually physical. The digital twin is a technology that you can create a digital representation of your product. This type of technology in product development is unbelievable and once again we come back to the leverage in technology to do better and enable you to do something you could not do before. Augmented reality is something that can aid in customer service or workforce. This enables you to give a workforce a different kind of training. With AR you can put the necessary knowledge at the fingertips of others when needed, right there, right now.

A: At the moment, what do you think is the most interesting trend in digital technologies?

AG: One very important and exciting thing is confluence. This requires bringing together two or more emerging technologies to create new outcomes. If we talk about emerging technologies, we have some technologies that are horizontal or AI that can work on all kinds of industries with different approaches and different outcomes. There is also blockchain security. If you say AI adoption in my company has a value of 2 and the blockchain has a value of 3.  But if you put the two together these two technologies would not equal 2+3=5, the result is more like 7. This is because they work together to create more than just the single technology. It is something that is happening now, but in the future it is something that will be happening with even more integrated technology.

I wrote an article about confluence robotic optimisation and the confluence of AI  that explores the software that can do so much more than just reading emails. It can read the emails but also send the invoices. It is programmed so if ‘this’ then ‘do that’ or ‘if that’ then ‘do this’. But, if you inject this model with deeper learning it can use technologies such as AI to do it. So, when you inject the technology with another emerging technology you create something bigger. This is an area of technology I’m very passionate about.

If you would like to read more from Antonio Grasso and his work in the technology industry you can find Antonio at:

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All About Blockchain

Blockchain technology allows digital information to be distributed but not copied’. It’s a  growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Outside of the widely known ‘Bitcoin’ application, blockchain as a technology has lots to offer for several industries. Appearition’s Developers Simon Galanakis and Sujanth Sebamalaithasan talk about the technology, its application and the future:

  1. Blockchain – as a technology seems scalable. What are the sectors that can adapt to it?

Blockchain as a technology is useful when you keep an open and transparent record and history of data. This is so that people can look at the history and trust it if it is true. No one can manipulate it if that is the case.

Blockchain will be able to benefit sectors that require large data sets to be stored with a high-level of encryption. Some industries include:

– Banks and finance

– Medical sectors – patients medical records

– Industries using copyrighted content or sectors like film or software where patent plays an important role.

– Law firms where client details need to be stored securely

– Property ownership and management

  1. Blockchain and AR – do you see a plausible future? If so, how?

There is definitely a future (for blockchain and AR). There are a number of areas that we need to explore where blockchain could work with AR. If AR is treated as an object or a commodity, for example, an AR experience in a bottle – in which you can scan for a promotional video. If you consider that to be one package/entity, something that people want to share or retain ownership and for that to be genuine, you can employ blockchain. It is possible to record the particular details (eg. who created it, when it was created) that make up an AR experience in that blockchain.

  1. AR and blockchain – is it possible to keep the AR data/commodity, private/free from misuse?

Yes, it is possible. Conceptually it is a block – and if the block is used to play a video (An AR experience) and suddenly shows only a picture – it is a change in experience. If someone tries to tamper with the history of this block saying it was originally designed to showcase a picture – that’s a situation when blockchain can come into the picture and vouch for what was originally planned.

When used privately blockchain is not very useful. It will gain value when people start creating Augmented Reality (AR) products and begin to own them, share them and want to track its usage.

For instance, people create and upload videos on YouTube, which only YouTube can control and view the analytics and claim its accuracy. Whereas, if you want to de-centralise a control – it can be done by allowing every AR experience to be posted into the blockchain record. This is potentially a way in which we can track it. The concept of blockchain application needs to be considered here. Its power is very useful when you want to ensure that records are not tampered with; especially publicly visible records, that are available to others.

The idea of the blockchain is that it is an ever-growing ledger. Think of it as one big file, which continues to grow as blocks. The data is out into the blocks. In the example of Bitcoin, it is close to 160 gigabytes now. It is how big the blockchain is. As more and more transactions occur, it is going to have problems as it continues to grow. So, I think it is going to become a technological issue that needs to be solved. There are some solutions being proposed currently. Like, Hard Fork – decentralised ledgers, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) – digitised version of cryptocurrency rather than the crypto version.

Right now, the scalability for blockchain with all the services around the world (for Bitcoin), when a new node/server wants to come on board, they must download 160 gigabytes of data for the first code. Then it is going to work on just partial data received all over the internet. The rise of the internet and email system in the 90s, meant people could only send a few emails and can only have a few contacts or a few hundred megabytes in their inbox. These days, some email servers offer unlimited storage for these data. I think the role of technology is evolving to keep up the demands of blockchain. It needs to be seen as not really the kind of one-stop solution kind of tool, it is just another tool in the tool world that can potentially solve a particular business problem.

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  1. What are some things one needs to be cautious about when using this technology?

If an individual or an organisation tries to build their own blockchain, then they need to create their own node/service. The idea of the system or its integrity is the fact that you have more than 51% of all nodes of the network belonging to a particular chain or block is valid or correct. If you’re constructing your own blockchain, you need to manage your own nodes. Again, that kind of defeats the purpose of decentralised responsibility. You’ll still own the blockchain, you’ll still manage the nodes, so it kind of defeats the purpose. I’d question whether it is useful. When many people acknowledge this technology and start to use this in their day to day life then blockchain technology will become more stable.

  1. Business IPO and blockchain – Can you please elaborate?

Business IPO means initial public offerings. Companies who need capital to expand their business, usually do the IPO and distribute the company’s shares to the public. Likewise, in the Cryptocurrency environment, companies who are involved in this technology use ICO (initial coin offerings) to collect their capital before starting the project. The public who backed these projects will get cryptocurrencies and some useful benefits if that project successfully implemented

  1. How do you see blockchain aiding digital transformation?

Digital transformation is driven by four main factors, Internet of Things, big data, business platform models and collaborations between businesses. Using blockchain technology we can easily improve the above factors. Blockchain is increasing the trust between the unknown participants which can give a more collaborative environment to businesses. It helps to secure data and protect from anonymous access. Securing information is the major challenge in the digital world so blockchain will take a major role in digital transformation in the near future.

Learn More About Blockchain

Want to learn more about blockchain? Check out this TED Talk by Bettina Warburg

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Augmented Reality for education and engagement in Retail

My car’s engine just popped out of my bonnet! As Melbourne, Australia hosts the latest Formula 1 Grand Prix, Mercedesme hosted an exclusive event for members of the Australian and international media. Participants met two of Mercedes-Benz’s newest cars, with a twist. Digital content was superimposed on vehicles so that a 3D engine emerged from […]

Using Machine Learning to leverage the power of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) in its current definition is the overlay of digital information on a real-world view. In practical terms, it is the process of recognising specific physical objects in a device’s camera and superimposing digital content such as video, audio or 3D models.

Visual recognition is one aspect of AR which encompasses image, object, scene and facial recognition. Computer vision technology is used to identify shapes and patterns through a complicated set of mathematical models. These models and processes are all facets of Machine Learning (ML) that drive Artificial Intelligence (AI).

ML is the science of “teaching” the system to look for commonalities and patterns and assessing the probability that a match is found. Effectively, with a set of mathematical models in place, the system is fed a collection of information that represents a positive match. For instance, if we want to teach the system to identify a cat, we provide thousands of images of cats and let the system process and find common visual patterns across all the images.

This is known as deep learning where the outcome is a system that can recognise and track almost any pattern. With this capability, we can inject a virtual projection into the area that is being recognised and tracked to deliver, what is called, an augmented reality experience.

The power of AI and ML is being able to make decisions based on the real-world scenario. Let’s consider its application in a security surveillance system. A machine that has been trained to detect weapons, such as knives and guns, can be used to observe CCTV security vision. In real-time, it can look for patterns in the scene that resemble its definition of a weapon. If identified, a notification alarm could be raised for someone to act.

Pattern recognition is not limited to visual only. Auditory, gesture and other data patterns can also be “taught” using ML. Continuing with our security surveillance example, a trained machine could be used to listen to sounds in the environment and detect patterns of shouting or offensive language being used.

The challenges

One of the hurdles in training a machine to identify patterns is sourcing enough material that is deemed a “positive match”. In these cases, systems are designed with feedback loops to allow machines to “learn by experience”. If for some reason the machine fails to detect what it is supposed to, it can be taught what was missing in the initial dataset and be trained to act on it the next time it occurs. All this is supported by an aspect of ML called “convolutional neural networks”. Different nodes that perform specific mathematical functions on the dataset are interconnected to achieve the specified outcome.

The opportunities

In a time when vast amounts of information is available at our fingertips, being able to recognise the world around us and decipher what is relevant will become critical. Whether at work, at home or in a social setting, successful real-world augmentation will rely on AI and ML observing and recognising our environment and adapting information to match our situation.

As hardware technology improves and wearable, handsfree devices become a reality, ML and AR will become an integral, yet ambient part of our lives.

Simon Galanakis is a passionate advocate of effective AR experiences and is currently Appearition’s Platform Architect and Senior Solution Designer.

Gartner Symposium Australia – 2018

Appearition’s Rod Smith attended the 2018 Gartner Symposium in Gold Coast. With over 2000 attendees across the 2-day event, Rod shares his experience from the trip and on the emerging technologies that Gartner spoke about:

The Continuous Next

This year’s Symposium revolved around the theme ‘Continuous Next.’ Gartner sees the future in terms of continuous change at an increasing pace. A key vision for the future was the “Digital Twin” concept where organisation processes could be twinned for training and operational purposes. This could be of significant impact in augmented reality terms, particularly in asset digital twins. One of the more contentious statements was the expectation that companies should move from a project focus to a product focus. Culture also featured strongly, and the change management strategy required for implementing any new technology.

Keynote Address:

One of the highlights of the symposium was a presentation by Garry Kasparov (pictured below), the former world chess champion, and author. He provided a fascinating tale of his competition with the IBM Deep Blue chess program, which he claimed became a turning point in the artificial intelligence (AI) roadmap for chess. Kasparov centred his talk about AI and what it means to us, humans.

Disruptive technologies

The symposium had a big focus on disruptive technologies such as blockchain, digital twins, Augmented Reality (AR). Particularly, AR is at the point of starting on “the slope of enlightenment” section of the Gartner hype cycle. Digital twins was widely spoken about and heavily emphasised. This creates significant opportunities for AR companies which can model equipment assets and model processes. The payback for companies will be better utilisation of resources, efficiency and cost savings.

Gartner’s ITXPO

The ITXPO was held at the convention centre and accompanied the symposium. The XPO witnessed the likes of several large groups of vendors. Several tech enthusiasts celebrated the spirit of Halloween as the event drew close:

 

For all those in the business of technology, Gartner Symposium 2018 was the place to be!

Digital Transformation: Who, why, when and how

Splunk Inc, global leaders in database and analytics recently conducted an all-day event called SplunkLive at the Palladium, Crown, Melbourne. Over 700 companies from three streams – namely Security, IT Operations and industry-specific attended.

Appearition is constantly working towards enabling our customers to stay ahead in their game with our robust and agile solutions. As Splunk’s innovation partner, we were part of the networking conference that explored the implementations of Splunk solutions around Application Monitoring and Security.

Digital Transformation

At the cusp of Digital Transformation, enterprises are looking to adopt technologies that enhance their functioning, without disrupting existing workflow. ‘The customer journey session was pretty insightful to know from an enterprise perspective. Such sessions provide the pulse of what customers are looking for,’ says Albert Kalaja of Appearition. ‘Time and again, such events enable us to better provide bespoke solutions to our customers.’

By 2020 the new information generated per second for every human being will approximate amount to 1.7 megabytes. In other words, over 44 zettabytes of data will exist. Database management and automation of analytics seem to be need of the hour for enterprises.

With its ability to convert complex logs to visual graphs and reports resulting simplified analysis, reporting and troubleshooting, Splunk will be one of the tools that companies should have in their armoury to function successfully in the digital era.

blockchain augmented reality

Blockchain: The Evolution of Exchange

The foundations of economics are built on the fact that humans have traded goods and services since the dawn of time. Trading of goods for consumption and services for functionality were the basis for this trade between humans and as time passed, between nations and organizations as well. As such, there was a need for centralized bodies to facilitate and moderate these trades.

“Institutions have been devised by human beings to create order and reduce uncertainty in exchange.”
Douglas North

How does Blockchain fit into this evolution?

Predictably – while institutions were built to reduce uncertainty, as they have grown larger and larger, they have also attracted increased levels of weariness from consumers. Questions like “why are my fees so high?” or “where does this percentage go?” start to prop up.

“The first generation of the digital revolution brought us the Internet of Information. The second generation—powered by blockchain technology—is bringing us the Internet of Value.”
The Blockchain Research Institute

Enter, Blockchain – a peer to peer method of managing records of transactions that enables consumers to conduct trade directly, without having to be dependent on systems such as legal tender or pay institutional fees.

So what is Blockchain exactly?

Essentially, Blockchain is a series of records (known as blocks) each connected to the previous starting from a “genesis block”. These blocks are connected through a process called hashing. These records exist in a decentralized network made secure through cryptography – in the form of one “common trusted ledger” – or “distributed ledger technology”.

Check out this TED Talk by Bettina Warburg

We’ll be posting another article next week regarding blockchain – make sure you like our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up to date. Alternatively, contact us to find out more.