Using digital twin technology in the metaverse to resolve complex infrastructure issues

The intersection of digital twins, the metaverse, and the physical world is an ideal place to invest, allowing global teams to collaborate and solve complex infrastructure problems writes Lori Hufford, VP of Application Integration at Bentley Systems

As the metaverse rapidly expands along with the evolution of the internet, its application is reshaping the world in terms of how infrastructure is designed, constructed, and operated. Analysing the impact of these changes on an infrastructure software company is crucial, keeping in mind the key role it plays in maintaining a balanced relationship with the physical world and the metaverse.

The metaverse and digital twins are frequently cited as the next big technological leaps, as these two innovations continue to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. As a result, the intersection of digital twins, the metaverse, and the physical world is an ideal place in which to invest, allowing teams to collaborate and draw on talent from all over the world to solve complex infrastructure problems. The benefits of digital twins and the metaverse can be applied to infrastructure in a variety of ways, especially during the various phases of its lifecycle.

In terms of the design process, users are interacting with digital twins to conduct interdisciplinary design reviews globally across the supply chain and use digital tools for validation. Similarly, augmented reality is being used in the construction stage to visualise and review construction sequencing, reduce risks, and improve outcomes. During operations, augmented reality using infrastructure digital twins can be used to improve safety through simulations, such as maintenance or training, or through remote inspections. For digital twins to be effective, they must be engineering-grade, millimetre-accurate, and contain structured engineering metadata.

One example is the ITER project in France, where representatives of 35 countries are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak – a magnetic fusion device designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers the sun. This is a massive design and construction project with complex engineering models and millions of parts.

ITER wanted to give users the ability to enter the digital twin and experience it, for which they created CATIA models that were brought into SYNCHRO, which is built on the Bentley iTwin platform for 4D construction modeling and sequencing. By leveraging Unreal Engine, Omniverse, and Cloud XR, ITER successfully created an engaging virtual experience for the team to immerse themselves in, without comprising the quality of the model.

Likewise, to leverage the metaverse, users must be able to easily integrate it into their existing workflows. The metaverse must also be accessible through existing workflows and make use of existing web-based, team-oriented streaming tools, while being open to allow users to develop their own metaverse applications.

Communication will undoubtedly evolve and improve in the future, including communication between people, people and assets, assets to people, assets to assets, and a variety of other modalities. As previously stated, managing and balancing our relationship with the natural world is critical in this transition. We should strive to be good stewards of the planet to seek architecture and software designs that minimise computational requirements and reduce our carbon footprint.

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