Another Kind of Twin

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Thanks to the increasing accessibility and capabilities of the internet of things, use of digital twins is gaining momentum in several industries.

Digital twins use a combination of big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT to generate and analyze data about a physical asset. By leveraging these technologies, the digital twin acts as a virtual model of the physical asset and can provide valuable insight about the physical asset during its lifecycle.

For example, a manufacturer could outfit an existing production line with IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) sensors to feed data to the production line’s digital twin. After processing and analyzing the data received from the physical twin’s sensors, the digital twin could recommend tweaks to increase efficiency or even alert the company to a system in need of maintenance. Other uses for digital twins include:

  • Designing and testing prototype products or processes in a virtual environment;

  • Monitoring and repairing remotely-located or difficult-to-access assets;

  • Optimizing the operations of large institutions, such as hospitals or universities; and

  • Maybe even restoring Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Although digital twin technology might currently seem out of reach for many businesses, the incredibly rapid pace at which AI, machine learning and IoT have developed indicates that it could become mainstream before we know it. When that time comes, there will certainly be a number of legal implications for businesses to consider surrounding data privacy, confidentiality, intellectual property protection, cyber security and more.    


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Lauren Sigouin