What Is Digital Twin Technology?

Oct 7, 2020

What is a digitial twin?

A digital twin refers to a digital replica, virtual model or the three-dimensional representation of the built environment or physical asset, at a certain point in time. A digital twin can also be the design model for a future asset which is then updated and maintained to reflect the as-built state of an asset, during the construction and operation phases of the asset’s lifecycle.

A digital twin is a bridge and a framework between the physical and digital world.

What is digital twin technology used for?

In rapidly changing environments such as during construction operation activities, a digital twin provides a “snapshot” of the built environment at a given point in time, providing the ability for a digital twin to be used for change detection, clash analysis or conformance.

Digital twins can be used as a framework to attach other spatial and non-spatial information as well as real-time data from IoT sensors. In this way the 3D digital twin provides a spatial framework to attach other information and data so that it has spatial context and relevance.

What challenges can IntelliSpatial solve with digital twins?

Pairing the virtual and physical worlds provides insights across all stages of your asset life cycle or built environment by refining assumptions using predictive data analytics, and time-based simulations or virtual construction.

Both predictive analysis and simulations can be used so that we can mitigate any potential problems, prevent downtime, and increase efficiencies. Visual simulations of the physical environment allow for real time lessons learnt, helping with intelligent decision making for future planning, and increasing the likelihood for a return on your investments.

How do we create digital twins?

IntelliSpatial utilises several different types of reality capture systems (below) to create digital twins of the built environment. The two most common capture systems are laser scanning (or LiDAR), and camera or imaging systems. These systems and the associated processing techniques can be used in a variety of ways to create different points of view for the data they collect. Systems can be hand carried, mounted on a tripod, attached to a moving platform or vehicle, or mounted on a manned aerial platform or UAV.

The selection of the capture system and associated platform is based on the scale and accessibility of your assets, the accuracy and level of detail that you require for the digital twin data set. We also consider the speed of capture and time required to process the data to meet your objective.

What digital twin reality capture systems do we use?

The application of the digital twin, drives which reality capture system is used, and the level of detail and type of the 3D model created, and how long it will be relevant. Examples of reality capture systems that we utilise for our solutions include:


  • Terrestrial laser scanning systems with integrated camera systems
  • Mobile laser scanning systems with integrated camera systems
  • UAV with high resolution camera sensor
  • UAV with LiDAR and high-resolution camera sensors
  • Terrestrial imaging systems (multiple cameras on a single platform).

How does a digital twin work?

For the built environment, the level of detail (or LOD) of the 3D representation that is created is dependent on the reality capture system utilised and the associated processing technique. It is also dependent on the size and scale of your physical asset, and the point of view (or POV) that the capture system uses. The LOD is typically driven by how your digital twin will be utilised.


Who can benefit from using digital twins?

The resulting digital twin can provide planners, architects, designers, and engineering specialists within a BIM environment with the necessary information to make informed decisions about the asset and how it interacts with the built environment. It can also be used by facility and operations managers to understand how their assets are performing.

To learn how you can utilise digital twin technology and experience its benefits get in touch with our team.