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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Ajit Joakar on Digital Twins

Nicely placed background on analytical method and design based on physical models.

The significance of Digital Twins in design and simulation     By Ajit Jaokar

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I have been tracking Digital Twins closely over the last year – based on the recent work from Paul Clarke who is a mentor to our course and to me personally for the AI and Edge at the University of Oxford   ...   AjitJoakar

The idea of Digital Twins itself is not new – but we see that this technology will have significant impact over the next few years – especially as a technique to unify AI and IoT.

 Specifically, in my course I am interested in the role of Digital Twins in an engineering context for enhancing Model-based Design and simulation where AI will drive IoT but also extend to AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality)

We are launching a new course on Digital Twins: Enhancing Model-based Design with AR, VR, and MR which focusses on the engineering aspects of digital twins. If you are interested in it, please contact me.

In this post, I outline some ideas for Digital twins in design and simulation in an engineering context. This is a complex topic, so will revisit in subsequent posts.


The idea of "Digital Twins" originated with NASA. Digital Twins were then adopted into the manufacturing industry as a conceptual version of the PLM (Product Lifecycle Management). However, the core idea behind Digital twins remains the same, i.e., a virtual model that incorporates all the necessary information about a physical ecosystem to solve a particular problem.

Engineering systems have always used abstraction techniques to model complex problems. 

But the Digital Twin takes this idea further by allowing you to model a problem and simulate it. A variety of machine learning and deep learning techniques (collectively referred to as artificial intelligence AI) play a part in the simulation aspects of the digital twin. AI helps to simulate scenarios via the Digital twin but also to make autonomous decisions. Further, we could also use Augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and other strategies for modelling engineering problems.

Collectively, the techniques described above are referred to as 'Model-based design.' Model-based design help engineers and scientists to design and implement complex dynamic systems using a set of virtual (digital) modelling technologies. As a result, you can iterate your design through fast, repeatable tests. In addition, you can automate the end-to-end lifecycle of your project by connecting virtual replicas of physical components in a digital space.  Once the system is modelled as a twin, various existing and new engineering problems can be modelled and simulated, such as predictive maintenance, anomaly detection, etc.


We consider the following terminology:

Model-based design: A set of technologies and techniques that help engineers and scientists to design and implement complex, dynamic, end-to-end systems using a set of virtual (digital) modelling technologies. Collectively, these technologies can simulate and model physical objects and processes in multiple industries.

A digital twin is a digital representation that functions as a shadow/twin of a physical object or process. Digital twins are designed to model and simulate a process to understand it and predict its behaviour. Digital twin originates from engineering and is related to model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and surrogate modelling. The usage of digital twins is now more mainstream in software development, especially for IoT. Digital twins can be combined with AR and VR to model physical processes.  

Virtual Reality (VR) creates an immersive experience through VR devices like headsets and simulates a three-dimensional world. VR is used in instructional content and educational material for field workers, oil and gas, defence, aviation, etc.

Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information on a physical world. Typically, AR uses conventional devices like mobile phones. Pokemon GO is an example of AR usage.

Mixed Reality (MR) allows the manipulation of both physical and digital objects in an immersive world. Hololens is an example of mixed reality.  ... '

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