By: James Morris Manuel, EMEA MD at Matterport
History tells us that democratising access to cutting-edge technologies paves the way for innovation and the potential to change people’s lives. Take the internet as one example; as more and more people connected to the web, they opened themselves up to a whole range of new opportunities, from accessing education to increasing their chances of employment. The same is happening with digital twins – virtual replicas of the physical world – as it is now easier than ever for anyone to create one for personal use and benefits.
The possibilities digital twins can bring to a wide range of industries are endless. From creating digital walkthroughs of houses to help support real estate agents, to creating a virtual replica of a home for insurance purposes, digital twins are set to have a profound impact on how industries conduct their day-to-day operations. Matterport research has shown that there are over four billion buildings comprising of 20 billion spaces in the world, yet only one per cent of this is digitised, representing an enormous opportunity going forward for people to capitalise on digital twins. The technology has made significant steps in recent years, but its adoption is about to increase drastically.
The benefits of digital twins
The benefits of democratising access to digital twins will be acutely felt by professionals across multiple industries. Opening access via smartphones will make it much easier for consumers across varied industries to produce a digital twin of any building they like. The building can be designed, built, operated on, promoted and understood which amongst other benefits will assist users in understanding unforeseen inefficiencies; lessen the time needed recording existing problems, increase productivity; and help customers better plan for the future.
Another benefit comes down to costs. In recent years, digital twins have mainly been constricted to larger companies with significant budgets to afford the equipment and the software needed to capture the space and produce a digital replica. Going forward there will be a transition towards cheaper, more accessible, and easier to use digital twins culminating in its democratisation. Individuals and smaller companies will have access to the benefits as well as larger companies, increasing the use of the technology rapidly.
A significant advantage is how quick the process is to identify and scan a location, with users able to download the app on a smartphone and start scanning the area immediately. The 3D capture is then made, and professionals can share, embed and post to social media the digital twin. Tags can be added to illustrate any additional information required on locations, objects, or features. Professionals can even add their digital twins to websites such as Google Street View, Realtor.com, Homes.com, and Vrbo to better demonstrate their product, stand out from the competition and gain more value.
The impact on a wide range of industries
With the significant benefits that digital twins can bring, it is worth emphasising how it will impact individuals who use the technology, across multiple sectors. People across a variety of industries will benefit from the increasing democratisation of digital twins as they can be used to measure, document, manage and promote buildings. Homeowners or renters can benefit alike from creating a replica of their property and everything in it for a reduction in their insurance or planning their space, such as trialling which paint colour would look best in each of the rooms. Digital twins can also elevate the retail experience. For years consumers have been asking for innovations in the retail industry, and creating a copy of a shopfloor means that customers can immerse themselves in the shopping experience, bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar shopping and eCommerce.
These benefits also spill into construction and engineering as well. Professionals in the AEC industry can plan and manage their constructions much more easily, efficiently, and productively. Others in the industry can also be brought on board to help with the collaboration process. A 3D virtual experience can be published online assisting those in the real estate and travel and hospitality sectors. Realtors can map properties to promote their real estate and accurately demonstrate to potential buyers or renters what the building looks like. Similarly, travel agents can shoot hotels, resorts, and holiday homes to advertise their vacation destinations to prospective customers and show precisely what the space has to offer.
Digital twins have the power to revolutionise industries and the jobs of those working in them. From small businesses to large-scale corporations, democratising access to digital twins means they can easily integrate them into the way they do business, and all from the power of the smartphones in their pockets. Digital twins are growing exponentially, reaching the point that anyone can access digital twins for any purpose they wish, so it’ll be important for businesses not to miss the boat and lose out to their competitors.