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Confused buyers don't buy digital twins

Henry Fenby-Taylor

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I spoke to Genene on a recent DTFC podcast and really took a shine to her.

The most contentious view she has is that a 3D model of an asset is a static digital twin. I'm with Michael Grieves on this, 'it's an analogy'.

So does it even matter? calling a 3D model a static digital twin in engineering and built environment sectors gives customers a feeling of being on the journey towards a dynamic digital twin.

Good article from a good egg.

Edited by HenryFT
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  • 4 months later...

I think it would be best to stop calling a 3D model as "digital twin". By using terms like "static", people might simply want to overuse "digital twin" which is very trendy now. 

It would be better to avoid such loose definition because at the end it is just confusing. It was the same for BIM model, where a lot of 3D models were called "BIM". Or even "AI".

A 3D model is never a digital twin, it is a representation. In most cases, 3D models are not even a good representation as they will have lot of errors.

We use a 3D model for digital twin as a "skeleton", but no one will say that a skeleton is a "human" for example. It is just one part. An important one, but still a part (ie: need other things).

Also people are not calling Michelangelo's David as a "physical twin" of a man, but a representation. A picture of a painting is never a "copy" and nowhere near a "twin".

I have seen some businesses trying to sell a collection of still images as a "digital twin" and I really fell we are losing focus.


It is very important because if we want to develop standards or to draw useful information, we need proper classification/definition. Let's call a "cat" a cat!
Otherwise it will be very difficult to build robust technologies. Point clouds and CAD models existed before, they don't need to change name. No structure is "statistic", even if they are slow to change, therefore a "digital twin" should/must be "dynamic".

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I tend to agree with you Vladimir, because the last thing we need is mis-selling in this area in the way that we've seen BIM wash, but I know that Michael Grieves would argue that a virtual model for simulation purposes was the first digital twin at NASA (that was then used for managing the asset once it was in space).

So perhaps we're in danger of being too focused on the built environment where we have developed our own terms for 3D models with embedded information aka BIM which has its own problem, what is BIM?! The lines are very grey and Digital Twins could well have the same issue. 

Take a listen to what Michael has to say. It's a tricky subject, because we do seem to be diverging from the international vision of digital twins, but as the man says himself 'it's an analogy you know'


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