The Next Wave of Technology
Houston, We Have a Solution: Fortunes Will Be Made
“Houston, we have a problem.”
In the late 1960s when NASA was planning on going to the moon, the organization made an exact replica of the space capsule and moon lander.
This replica came in handy during the Apollo 13 mission. You may remember the "round peg in a square hole" scene in the Apollo 13 movie. The people on the model capsule in Houston solved the CO2 and drinking water problems and then radioed the solutions to space. The three astronauts were saved and everyone was happy.
The idea of creating an exact replica, or twin, to troubleshoot problems is right up there with Tang as a legacy of the moonshot.
Obviously, you can’t make an exact life-size replica of a skyscraper or a field of wind turbines, but 50 years later, we can now make a “digital twin,” or DT.
A DT is an exact, dynamic replica of a physical system using only computers or virtual reality systems. It enables fast and creative experimentation with low cost and little risk.
Companies like GE, Boeing, and Siemens use DTs to model engines and large equipment.
One company called KION Group is looking into creating digital twins of warehouses to enable the use of robots. It’s called artificial intelligence-based indoor cartography.
Another group is working on mapping heat loss and energy use in the entire city of London, and thinks it can cut the carbon footprint in half by using a real-time model.
There are a plethora of uses, from insurance to maintenance to automotive to robots to medical.
Global Market Insights reports that the digital twin market size exceeded $5 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 35% between 2021 and 2027.
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The Turning Point
In the past, physical twins were used to create cars and space shuttles. However, the state of technology has advanced to a point where we can add dynamic, real-time data.
For instance, the city of London is constantly changing. New buildings go up and old ones come down. Roads change and people move in. And that doesn't even get into things like temperature, humidity, rain, rust, and what have you.
To have a real model of such a dynamic system, you need sensors and data. We now have that in the internet of things, so almost everyone and everything can be tracked. New sensors are cheap; you can buy a smart doorbell for a mere $60 now. 5G communication coupled with Starlink will cover the world in broadband. Virtual and augmented reality are making great strides. You can interact with a 3D bridge, robot, or living organ.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data are tying all of this together to make a powerful tool.
We aren't just building and observing. We are troubleshooting, controlling, and adapting complex, ever-shifting systems.
There are companies at the forefront of all this, and some of them will make early investors rich. Some companies create the software, while others make the VR systems. Some will provide the big data chips or the LiDAR sensors.
And like any technological transformation, there will be winners and losers. I don’t know anyone who uses CompuServe or AOL anymore, but I do know a couple multimillionaires who retired young from AOL.
Energy Demand will Increase 58% Over the Next 25 Years
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