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    Digital twins: what do they mean for lighting?

     

    At Signify we’re in the business of predicting the future. Often, we get it right – like when we built a portfolio of everyday lights that took LED technology mainstream, or when we energized the connected lighting market by introducing a standard for fixture-based control. So what’s next in our crystal ball? Digital twins. We think they’re poised to make the jobs of lighting professionals easier while improving our buildings and cities – and we’re committed to helping our partners be part of the benefits they’ll bring.

     

    Digital twins: the IoT killer app?

    Digital twins aren’t new. But today they’re at the intersection of almost every game-changing technology: the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, wireless connectivity, advances in sensors and cameras, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). If you believe the buzz, they’re the IoT ‘killer app’ that unites all these capabilities to interpret the deluge of data coming from 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020.
     

    Analysts are saying that digital twins are the future. IDC predicts that by 2020, 30% of Global 2000 companies will use data from digital twins to improve product innovation and productivity, achieving gains of up to 25%. Gartner put digital twins among the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018 and estimated that by 2021 about 50 percent of all large industrial companies will use them.
     

    So what exactly is a digital twin?

    A digital twin is a digital replica of a real-world asset, object or system. By integrating continuous data feeds, we can learn how this asset is performing in real time and how people, things and processes interact with it. This lets us predict and fix issues faster and automate continuous improvement using AI.

     

    Who’s using digital twins?

    Digital twins are already used in smart factories to create virtual models of products, vehicles, aircraft and machines. They integrate complex datasets to give designers and engineers a holistic view of product specifications and performance, including user insights. By providing a ‘digital thread’, they make extremely complex design and product information traceable from cradle to grave. In lighting, digital twins already allow engineers, specifiers and maintainers to see every detail of a device online once it’s manufactured.

     

    What does a digital twin look like?

    Let’s look at a building’s digital twin. First, it unites a 3-D model built from lighting plans, floor plans, schematics and other spatial data with up-to-the-minute data generated by the building. Data feeds from connected lighting, sensors, cameras, thermostats, power and water meters report light levels, occupancy, temperature, humidity, CO2 levels and more so they can be added to the model.
     

    We can expand the dataset still further with data from building information modeling (BIM), security, HVAC and wayfinding systems. And we can add smartphone and social data to gain insight into the experience of the people using the building. External data about the weather or from building partners, such as waste services, emergency services or maintenance companies, can also be layered into the model to enable smarter predictions and optimize efficiency.


    What does this mean for lighting?

    In future, light plans will become part of a building’s digital twin. Lighting specifiers will create them digitally and upload them to the digital twin to document the lighting products used and how they’re configured, establishing a digital thread that will be updated in real time. The status and history of the configuration will then be available from the cloud to maintainers, emergency services and other partners.


    Lighting will have a digital thread, allowing digital asset tracking, predictive maintenance and management of lighting products. Augmented reality can be used for maintenance and inspection – for example, by converging wayfinding and lighting plans to guide technicians to fixtures via an app.


    Digital twins save cost

    By combining all this information in a single digital representation, building managers have a real-time view of the integrated systems of a building, including the lighting. This lets them interpret building data more easily and respond quickly to how the building is actually used. They can monitor building health remotely to optimize energy, space usage and comfort.

     

    Digital twins help make buildings more human-centered

    By combining all this information in a single digital representation, building managers have a real-time view of the integrated systems of a building, including the lighting. This lets them interpret building data more easily and respond quickly to how the building is actually used. They can monitor building health remotely to optimize energy, space usage and comfort.
     

    Cities will have digital twins

    Digital twins are likely coming to a city near you. With SR sensors in light poles, they’ll be able to read traffic and crowds in real time and use location analytics, building information, geospatial, crime, air quality, land use and zoning data to reach new conclusions about city life. They’ll give city authorities a powerful view of smart city data so they can identify neighborhood trends, demographic changes and business activity to aid planning. They can also be used to optimize city services, such as waste, transport and traffic management or to improve emergency response. In future, they’ll enable town planners, engineers and traffic managers to test new ideas and understand their effects, helping us solve big problems in a more people-centric way to make megacities more livable.

     

    First, digitize lighting

    At Signify, we’re laying the groundwork for digital twins and an IoT future at the My Technology portal, which provides tools and information to support your design process. Design your optimal LED system in a minute using our Easy Design-in Tool. (You can see how it works in our video.) And configure devices simply with our MultiOne configurator giving easy access to device properties, specifications, analysis and diagnostics.


    Second, enable digital processes

    The tools we’ve already provided make lighting system data more transparent and lay the foundation for integrating it with digital twins. We’re committed to extending our tools to enable convenient digital processes and controls that speed lighting design and installation. For example, specifiers will be able to configure an entire project in MultiOne, creating a light plan that acts as a digital platform that configures the devices at the touch of a button.

    Get ready for digital twins

    In future, we believe that lighting data will be integrated into digital twins throughout the built environment. The digital twin will report back on how the lighting is performing and how it’s being used by building occupants. With this information instantly available in granular detail and AI-driven analytics to help us make sense of it, we can continuously optimize lighting to improve occupant comfort, energy efficiency or safety.

     

    Are you ready for digital twins? What features do they need to have to make your job easier? Connect with us and share your ideas!

     

    Get connected

     

    The idea is simple.

    The results revolutionary.
     

    Written by:

    Peter Duine

    Global Product Manager

    Signify

    Get in touch with Peter

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