Research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. published their top ten strategic technology trends for 2018 in early October. Gartner is focusing on what they call the “Intelligent Digital Mesh,” or the entwining of people, devices, content, and services. Gartner calls one trend within this theme “digital twins,” and believes they are poised for a breakout in 2018.
“Digital twins” refers to the digital representation of physical objects. It includes the model of the physical counterpart, any data collected by sensors, and direct correspondence and monitoring of the object. For example, NASA has used 3D renderings of probes and satellites for decades, monitoring any and all data collected by them in the process. Gartner predicts the concept of digital twins is at the forefront of disruptive technology that will have a meaningful, lasting impact on the market in 2018 and beyond.
According to Gartner’s Vice President of Research, “Digital twins drive the business impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) by offering a powerful way to monitor and control assets and processes.”
So what can we expect digital twins to offer in the coming years?
With an estimated 21 billion sensors to be collecting data in real time by 2020, the possibilities are endless:
Fleets of driverless trucks could be managed in an office with a live-feed of their location, speed, fuel consumption, and engine health.
Everything from industrial hardware to household appliances could alert parties of impending hardware issues.
Sensors could even alert individuals of health problems, ensuring the earliest possible detection of disease. An individual’s “digital twin” could then offer healthcare professionals a better understanding and visualization of the problem.
At its core, the concept of digital twins offers increased situational awareness and faster response time to drive better decision-making. This could lead to enormous cost savings for companies that integrate digital twins into their operations. Investors and techies may be wise to stay on the lookout for companies on the cutting edge of this technology.