The benefits of democratizing access to digital twins

Someone shaking hands with a digital hand through a laptop screen.
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Historically, democratizing access to burgeoning technologies has led to an exponential rise in use-cases and innovative solutions. One example is mobile phones (opens in new tab); when they reached the point where everyday consumers can call people from long distances, it led to an explosion of activities and services that improved the lives of users the world over. The same process is currently happening with digital twins – the digital replica of the real world – as it is now easier than ever to create a copy for personal use.

About the author

James Morris-Manuel is the Managing Director EMEA at Matterport (opens in new tab).

The consequences are seismic. Areas that are seeing continued innovation, such as the buying and selling of houses, will accelerate as the technology becomes more widespread. Digital twins will continue to impact the buying and selling of houses; the planning of retail stores; the marketing of hotels; the management of facilities; and the completion of design and construction projects as many more people can get involved than previously possible. The potential is extensive as well; 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 digitized, representing an enormous opportunity going forward. In short, there is a great opportunity for everyone who wants to use the technology for their own work.

A range of options

The benefits of democratizing access to digital twins will be acutely felt by professionals across multiple industries. Opening access via smartphones (opens in new tab) 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, increasing productivity (opens in new tab); 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 democratization. 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. Download the app (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) such as Google Street View, Realtor.com, Homes.com, and Vrbo to better demonstrate their product, stand out from competition and gain more value.

Digital twins are revolutionizing industries

With the significant benefits that digital twins can bring, it is worth emphasizing how it will impact individuals who use the technology, across multiple sectors. People across a variety of industries will benefit from the increasing democratization 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 trialing which paint color 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 shop floor means that customers can immerse themselves in the shopping experience, bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar shopping and eCommerce (opens in new tab).

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.

Democratizing digital twins is a game changer for individuals and small businesses as it is cheaper and easier to create the technology than ever before. Increasing the accessibility of digital twins makes those who perhaps couldn’t get involved with them previously, the opportunity to do so. Professionals will find it easier, faster, and more reliable to carry out their daily tasks. Taken together, digital twins are an exponential technology that will set to skyrocket in use from 2022 onwards.

James Morris-Manuel is the Managing Director EMEA at Matterport.