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Is Digital Twin Technology a Game Changer for CRE?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably started to hear buzz around the concept of digital twin technology.

It’s not a new idea - the concept has been around since the early days of space exploration. Faced with the challenge of operating, maintaining and repairing systems that were quite literally nowhere on Earth, NASA was the first to experiment with pairing physical assets to the virtual world.

The term the term itself was first coined in 2003 by Dr. Michael Grieves as part of his work on product lifecycle management. With vastly improved connectivity and the advent of virtual reality and IoT technology in the nearly 20 years since, the hype around digital twin tech is about to reach a fever pitch.

MarketWatch forecasts the digital twin technology market to grow from $1.8 million in 2018 to $13.5 million by 2025. Gartner counted it as one of their top 10 IoT technologies for 2018. Heavy hitters like Microsoft, Amazon and IBM are investing heavily in R&D around it.

So what exactly is digital twin technology?

Put simply, a digital twin is the virtual representation of a physical object, process or system. What makes this so enticing is that real time data from sensors, meters and other sources can be used to inform digital copies of physical assets in a virtual space that allows for monitoring and analysis as well as opportunities for machine learning, optimization and even future simulation.

Are digital twins important for CRE?

The short answer is yes. For the immediate future, digital twins provide the most value in terms of equipment management. Eventually though, digital twins can give property managers and building engineers the ability to:

  • Visualize and manage building equipment and systems in use in real-time
  • Connect disparate systems and promote traceability through a common digital thread
  • Optimize building operations with predictive analytics
  • Troubleshoot equipment from a distance

These insights into the inner workings of buildings and how they can be improved could mean significant savings in utility consumption, maintenance repair and operations and optimized IoT asset performance.

Is it worth the hype?

Much like blockchain, digital twin technology is on the cusp of breaking out in dozens of industries and changing the way we do business. Uses for digital twins will extend far beyond commercial real estate into industries like healthcare, manufacturing, city planning and even marketing. Gartner estimates 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020, meaning that digital twins could exist for billions of things in the near future.

Although the promise of these capabilities has yet to be fully realized, we are excited about what they will mean for the commercial real estate industry. At Aquicore, we are continually building upon our platform and finding ways to make new technology applicable to the challenges faced in the real world.

Stay tuned for our next post where we'll walk through how Aquicore is making digital twins a reality.