Surprising Facts About #dirtsimple Mute Digital Twins

Case study

Author: Holger (HoPi) Pietzsch

Not too long ago, I was involved in a campaign about talking machines. Indeed, thanks to increased connectivity, billions of gadgets can now connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). The data streaming through countless devices feeds the most sophisticated platforms, gets churned by mind-blowing algorithms and gives birth to new business models.

Talking machines are part of our future. And do they talk a lot? They tell us about their health, their energy consumption, their on-off status, and the list keeps growing. Today, most of them talk in different languages. To drive increasing standardisation across the many ‘machine dialects’ in the cloud, recently, a new agreement has been reached on construction machine data standards at a general meeting of the Working Group Machines in Construction MiC 4.0 in Berlin.

The goal of this collaboration between manufacturers and users is to deliver a quality assurance system to guarantee a uniform standard for the construction industry. Manufacturers, machine users and system integrators are continuously working on a coordinated industrial standard to democratise technology and modernise the heavy construction industry.

Why and which machines need to talk to us?

Surprisingly, despite this ever-increasing choice of insights, most things that people want to know about objects are quite simple. Where is it? Where is it not? And slightly more meaningful: is it where it is supposed to be, or is it where it is not supposed to be? Like my socks, that randomly appear or disappear in the strangest places.

Indeed, other objects should be interested in the location of their peers too. Do the fridge and the milk know of each other’s existence in space? Which machine algorithm will minimise the Euclidian distance, for instance, put the milk back in the fridge? I could hook up the milk to the IoT, and the fridge, and the beer and run them all through an App. As I’m adding grocery to my cloud, why not to add the car, the garage, the trees and the whole garden and connect them. But wait, you can’t hook up a garden or the trees in the backyard. That makes no technical or economic sense. Even the milk is questionable if you ask me. Beer maybe.

So, what do we do about all of these quadrillions of inanimate objects? Will they be damned to eternal muteness? None of them will ever get to meet their digital twin. They’re stuck in ordinary earthly reality.

How to create digital twins?

Leveraging digital twins is of critical importance for entire sectors in our economy, and heavy construction is a prime example for that. Contractors move large amounts of material every day. Earth needs to be accurately cut in one place and asphalt precisely laid in another. Machines need to be operating in the right location and workers need to move in some and stay out of other areas. How do you capture and coordinate all of this without micro-chipping every stone on-site? How does one find a mute ditch in the cloud?

The answer to this question is that the ditch does not need to know of its own existence and talk about it. You need to know about the ditch’s location. The underlying technology to digitally capture large surfaces in the real world and gain the most accurate interpretation of the project conditions is called reality capture. Reality capture doesn’t need to listen to a ditch. However, it sees it, measures it, digitises it and runs the captured data up the cloud for further processing and sharing.

Advanced GNSS technology determines the exact geo-location of the ‘eyes’, and through triangulation, any ‘seen’ point can thus be located. Reality capture uses radio, lasers, LiDAR and traditional cameras. It runs advanced surveying algorithms to map millions of points per second.

Data can be captured from multiple sources through the use of 3D laser scanners and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) photogrammetry, producing 3D datasets such as point clouds and meshes and shared with everyone involved in the project via cloud-based collaboration tools . The ability to monitor the project conditions in real time not only gives the benefit of better planning, design, and execution but also provides the base for as-built validation.

Which reality capture technology to choose?

There are an array of reality capture technologies available from small handheld to more static, terrestrial laser scanners. When choosing a reality capture solution for your next project, it is key to understand why you need data, what data you need, how best to capture it, and how you plan to use it.

Small portable and handheld imaging scanners give access to difficult areas and capture detailed data and images at the touch of a button. To capture large, inaccessible or hazardous areas aerial imagery and generate 3D deliverables UAVs or drones are ideal solutions.

When using mobile mapping solutions carried as a backpack or mounted on vehicles, the technology helps to capture data across large areas, highways, tunnels, railways and much more. However, for large scale jobs and inaccessible places, the latest terrestrial laser scanners allow long-range data capturing from a safe position on site.

To find the reality capture solution fit to your project, start with understanding the data and information needed to make informed decisions and, ultimately, keep the project on-time, on budget, and to specification.

Digital twins for a smarter future

Digital reality builds an infinitesimal number of digital twins, stores them in time capsules and compares the measured reality against the desired reality in countless feedback loops. Edge computing or cloud processed data can then be transmitted to anything and anybody providing complete spatial awareness. Digital reality provides space and time to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Today, Smart Digital Reality™ is the most promising technology to enable smart sites, smart infrastructures and smart cities. Smart Digital Reality™ approach will enable Hexagon’s technology to work everywhere, and to provide real-time location intelligence for the places and times that matter the most. A Smart Digital Reality™ is much bigger than the digital twin. It captures events as they happen in real-time autonomously extracting from the digital twin and fuse that live data to a complete reality capture.

It enables the interaction of objects, collaboration of people and coordination of tasks to work things safer, more efficiently and more sustainably because everything has a place and there’s a place for everything — even my socks.

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