How businesses are using the metaverse and digital twins

How businesses are using the metaverse and digital twins

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse has been a trendy topic like AI, IoT, and blockchain, earlier. Although there may be some variations in its definition, there are still a few key elements that are the foundation of what the (or “a”) metaverse is. Whether we are referring to a metaverse for consumers or for B2B, the metaverse refers to an interconnected network of connected, persistent, and virtual worlds (or spaces) where digital avatars of human users can interact with each other and with elements of the metaverse itself. With the development of virtual reality headsets and projecting developments, the metaverse market is poised to significantly expand.

Though the recent hype about the consumer metaverse has focused on creating a social virtual space and gaming environment, the “industrial metaverse” has already taken its leap.

The Metaverse represents a global 3D network of virtual world. The transformation of the web into Web3.0 and the development of blockchain and decentralization helps in creating digital assets like NFTs as digital currency using which one can purchase or sell virtual goods.  The 3 key pillars of the metaverse are

    • Virtual reality (VR)
    • Augmented reality (AR)
    • and 3D visualization of data

Here virtual reality is computer generated 3D environment that surrounds the user and responds to an individual’s action in a natural way through head mounted display such as Oculus Quest. On the other hand, augmented reality is real time use of information such as text, graphic, audio, video with real world objects. “Pokémon Go” is a perfect example of augmented reality where it enables the user to experience the presence of virtual world.

Similarly, IKEA uses augmented reality and virtual reality to engage users by giving systematically organized and personalized home furnishing visualization and advice. The IKEA app allows people to forecast an entire room with new furniture to see how it would look.

Emerging metaverse technologies

Looking forward to the development of metaverse technology, many organizations are extending their capabilities. Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, a video game developer and publisher. Also, Unity software has acquired Weta Digital (a digital VFX company) to develop RT3D (real-time 3D). Similarly, NVIDIA is developing the Omniverse to provide the tools metaverse developers need.

To help accelerate both its first party and a third party metaverse ecosystem, Microsoft shared what it believes are the key technology stacks elements required. More than a brand-new platform, this approach builds on existing and expanding platforms and tools to provide a fairly comprehensive solution to build the future B2B metaverses.

Microsoft metaverse technology stack

Source: Microsoft metaverse technology stack

Metaverse platforms

In addition to Microsoft, most technology companies, and some more traditional ones, have started to build metaverse platforms or integrations:

Other metaverse platforms

The industrial metaverse

During the Industrial Metaverse event hosted by RealWear, Brian Vogelsang, Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm said: “Industrial metaverse is not a new technology. It is an evolution of technology, a convergence.”

With digital twin tools such as Azure Digital Twin and 3D visualization tools such as “AltSpaceVR” and “Azure Digital Twins 3D Scenes Studio”, it is possible to visualize real-life process data in a 3D space. It helps link together 3D content, digital twin, and business specific logic.

A great example of such use of the industrial metaverse with digital twin is the following Contoso Refinery demo from Microsoft.

Microsoft - 3D Scenes Studio (preview) for Azure Digital Twins

Source: Microsoft – 3D Scenes Studio (preview) for Azure Digital Twins

Contoso Refinery is an end-to-end demonstration implemented with Azure Digital Twins 3D Scenes Studio. In this demo, users can monitor and diagnose real-time operational data with the visual context of 3D assets. Visualized 3D models can be easily accessed through any web browser. The demo offers a low code builder to add 3D elements to digital twins and define both user interface and business logic visualization.

Real-world use cases for the industrial metaverse

A growing number of companies have already developed industrial metaverses. Here are a few examples across different industries and use cases.

Kawasaki: Robot care and maintenance

Kawasaki unveiled the “Kawasaki DX.” It uses Microsoft’s industrial metaverse technology to implement a real-time virtual approach to robot care and maintenance. It enables remote robot operation by using a digital twin with Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform, and Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality.

Bosch: Integrated asset performance management

Bosch has developed solution for asset performance management with digital twin on Azure which empowers rotating machines.

This platform enables propellers, turbines, and electric motors to indicate when they need maintenance to run with optimal costs and maximum efficiency.

Novo Nordisk: Efficiency and quality assurance

Denmark-based Novo Nordisk, a leader in the global production of medicines, is using HoloLens 2 and Dynamics 365, among others, to increase production processes efficiency while maintaining the highest quality standards and acting in accordance with required requirements and regulations.

Here are few other industrial metaverse use-cases

  • Using AR/VR at workstation to effectively monitor and repair faults using better insights
  • Creating and deploying simulations suggests improvements and QA testing of workflow before physical deployments
  • Fast and more effective skill training. For example, in aviation, by simulating practice and using scenario-based exercises
  • Creating an interactive 3D space for customer engagements in retail stores

Conclusion

Use cases help in understanding the metaverse. Along with this, the available technologies help in visualizing the opportunities in the improvement of existing solutions or attempting a new venture. Industries are already testing 3D visualization of physical entities and real-life data virtual representation.

With more sophisticated hardware, the Metaverse will open new significant improvement opportunities such as testing and building products virtually before doing it in real life, it can save costs and time, test product with different conditions, provides risk-free environment for humans.

Neal Analytics offers the end-to-end technological capabilities required for planning, building, and operating an effective industrial metaverse. Neal Analytics has provided solutions to integrate IoT devices with the Azure cloud.

Neal Analytics can efficiently process and store data for effective monitoring, analysis, and visualization of the result to enhance the manufacturing value chain and effective management of resources.  Feel free to contact us, If you are interested in learning more about this topic.

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