The Workplace of the Future, Now
Virtual reality (VR) is not only for sci-fi films or video games – it is also currently transforming the world of work.
Digital twins – virtual replicas of real objects, buildings or systems – are made possible through the use of IoT (internet of things) systems, augmented reality, and video capabilities that connect to the physical counterparts and provide real-time updates via information feeds.
This process is quickly becoming a cornerstone for design, planning and operations for everything from individual products to buildings to cities – the applications are limitless.
What’s more, the costs of these technologies are quickly declining. This greater accessibility, as well as the improvement of supporting technologies such as data transfer and storage, are facilitating a rapid expansion of the market, predicted to grow from $5.1 billion in 2020 to $115 billion in 2035.
It’s easy to see the reason for its popularity. Particularly when integrated with IoT systems, digital twins can extend value across product lifecycles by improving transparency and communication between stakeholders across a project.
This technology has application across a variety of sectors due to its usefulness in data collection and analytics, performance measurement, and decision-making processes.
Performance tests can benefit significantly from the use of digital twins and IoT implementation. Robots can be made to simulate performance, and performance can be monitored through the use of sensors. This allows enhanced testing, allowing greater pre-manufacturing upgrades and improvements, ultimately improving efficiency and the product experience through the ability to predict failure and prevent downtime.
Robots and digital twins can also be used to gather data or monitor environments in dangerous situations without the risk to human or animal life. Robots can be driven via VR controls, and its sensors can be used to detect things beyond the sensory capacities of any live-form.
Augmented reality (AR) can further enhance the product experience post-deployment by providing integrated service instructions, data and knowledge directly to the user, as well as connection to remote help.
Digital twins can thus support product owners, users and servicemen through the capabilities it provides.
VR allows designers of large structures to enter these spaces entirely virtually. In addition, these ‘visits’ can be accessed by anyone anywhere, opening the door for more international collaboration and easing that which already occurs. Further, this process enhances stakeholder communication and, ultimately, client satisfaction.
A variety of AR applications are made possible through the use of digital twins. For those hard-to-reach places, digital twins and AR can be used to “see” sites in need of attention, such as wiring or plumbing, making this an invaluable tool for construction and operations managers.
Even before this, however, IoT systems paired with digital twins can provide localized, real-time information and alerts, improving facility management and making service responses more efficient. All the data from these sensors can be imputed into the digital twin to create s single-source, contextualized and visualized method of data management, providing easier access to more advanced insights as well as more holistic understandings and situational awareness.
IoT systems can be used to monitor buildings and construction sites, improving their overall security and safety. Artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities can further enhance these systems as they can detect and breaches and unauthorized access, allowing the rapid deployment of security.
Some estimates have predicted that shipments of smart AI-based transportation system cameras are to grow from the current 33,000 to 155,000 by 2025. Such cameras can be used as adaptive traffic lights, parking access and detection and electronic tolling and can actually decrease the need to rely upon individual sensors, creating a more adaptable and efficient system.
This efficiency and accumulation of data and data processing make creating accessible and accurate applications possible that can be tailored to suit the needs of managers, facility operators, and users alike. These systems are also more robust and can hold vast amounts of data, allowing for more efficient and effective use.
Cameras can also be used to monitor proper facility use and catch any mismanagement. An example of this application is bin monitoring, whereby cameras are used to detect if all trash has been sorted into its proper receptacle. If it hasn’t, the system will alert the appropriate personnel to fix the error, improving the quality of the system and decreasing the frequency of error occurrence.
AR and VR can even have significant impacts on the work of those who must complete their tasks on-site. The point of VR is to remove the physical world; the point of AR is to engage with the physical world.
VR enables users to either practice or experience something that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to experience or to be able to continually repeat a task until they have committed that specific task into memory through repetition. This can be used for training, gaining situational awareness of new locations, developing muscle memory and practicing maintenance and engineering tasks.
AR can be used to record in-place and detailed 3D work instructions to allow the service team to work independently. AI technology can ensure the correct procedures are being followed, and sensors can communicate any irregularities or issues to the worker, who can then adjust appropriately.
Through its connection capabilities, those working on a project can access the advice and expertise of others without their physical presence, as those remote individuals can have access to the same visuals as those on-site with the use of digital twin and IoT systems paired with VR capabilities. It is also possible for guidance to occur via visual communication as well, with the remote worker annotating or drawing on what the on-site worker is looking at.
These sorts of technologies can have significant impacts on all sorts of careers, from firefighting to culinary arts.
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With the broad and varied benefits of digital twins, it is clear why this and its supporting technologies are becoming increasingly popular in all sorts of sectors and industries.
The key for organizations using augmented reality, virtual reality, and video capabilities in their day-to-day operations is integrating those technologies with IoT along with their AI analysis systems. With the combined capacities of these systems and technologies, your workplace can be a frontrunner in this emerging era of technology.