What is Digital Twinning ?

The term typically used to convey the concept of mapping the physical world to the virtual world is “Object Hyperlink”, which refers to the notion of extending the Internet to objects and locations in the real world.  In other words, the Internet is associated with (or mapped to) the real world by attaching object tags with URLs as meta-objects to tangible objects or locations.

Digital Twinning refers to the mapping of the physical world to the digital world in which Internet of Things (IoT) Platforms and Software are leveraged to create a digital representation of physical object or asset.  The Digital Twin of a physical object can provide data about the asset such as its physical state and disposition.


Smart Objects in Physical Environment

IoT will enable “Smart Objects” as depicted above.  In this topology, virtual objects (software programs) function as an abstract of real-world things (smart objects in the physic environment).  Virtual objects are associated with real objects to the extent that the latter may be manipulated, controlled, etc.  This means that there will be Virtual-to-Real (V2R)Real-to-Virtual (R2V), and Virtual-to-Virtual (V2V) scenarios.

Some human-oriented IoT enabled transactions will require AAA, such as a request to administer a virtual object and/or to manipulate a real-world object via the virtual one.  However, over time, the vast majority of transactions will not involve a human being as systems become Learning Machines, communicating with one another and applying previously gained data towards solving new problems.

Some of the areas that will benefit greatly from Digital Twinning are Connected Manufacturing, Industrial IoT, and Teleoperation.

Mind Commerce predicted this in its report Google in RFID and M2M, Second Edition (January 2013), when we evaluated the role of Google in M2M and related IoT areas.  We stated that there is great potential for Google in teleoperation related areas:

“There is a great potential for Google in M2M/IoT.  Just as RFID can be used to create presence detection, tracking, etc., and association between real-world items with Web-based objects such as URL’s, Google can employ the use of M2M for virtual control of real-world objects.”

“The obvious role for Google in M2M is address mapping.  Just as Google uses various algorithms to put search into context based on keywords, they can do the same to put communications and control into context.  This can be done in a real-world to real-world basis as well as real-world to virtual world (and vice versa) basis.”

Mapping is the foundation of “teleoperation” (operation of a machine at a distance) as there must first be a way to address an object before it can be signaled and/or controlled from a distance.

In that same report, our analysis continues with the following:

“It is quite a bit more obvious for the real-to-real scenarios such as predicting contextually which systems may be affected by real-world events such as a tidal wave striking a coastline where there is a nuclear power plant.

The real to virtual scenarios are less obvious, but have huge implications, as the virtual world represents two-way control (real to virtual and virtual to real) communications and control for a variety of use cases including simulations, alerts, risk assessment, gaming (some serious such as war games), etc.  Furthermore, augmented reality can be employed to help people in the real world be able to better identify and visualize these relationships so that they be leveraged for productive benefit.

For example, a maintenance team arriving at a building can gain access to an augmented reality view of hidden systems (for instance equipment behind a wall) to both see what is there as well as information and its status.  With a touch of a button, the worker is linked to a URL that provides static and/or dynamic information about the object such as specs and usage information, ownership, maintenance history, status, performance, etc.

With Google, it will be conceivable that every object will be known along with all key contextual data, mapped to addresses, and sorted by key associations, permissions, and privacy rules.”

We see these as vital functions, which Google and others will perform. We also see these teleoperation scenarios, and others, playing out over the next 10- 20 years with IoT as covered in the Mind Commerce report Teleoperation and Telerobotics in Industrial IoT

There are also many additional use cases for Digital Twinning including monitoring, simulation, and many more.  For more information about Digital Twinning, see the Mind Commerce report:


Internet of Things (IoT) Digital Twinning: Market Outlook for IoT enabled Physical to Virtual Mapping and Management 2017 – 2022 evaluates Digital Twinning technology, solutions, use cases, and leading company efforts in terms of R&D and early deployments. The report assesses the Digital Twinning product and service ecosystem including application development and operations. The report also analyzes technologies supporting and benefiting from Digital Twinning. The report also provides detailed forecasts covering Digital Twinning in many market segments and use cases including manufacturing simulations, predictive analytics, and more.

More Information

For more information and other topics see the Mind Commerce Knowledge Center

About Mind Commerce

Analysis of telecom and ICT infrastructure, technologies, and applications.
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