First originating from NASA’s Apollo program, we have seen increasing development beyond Digital Replicas to Digital Twins - the virtual representation of a physical asset, able to mirror both its static and dynamic characteristics.
But the time is now to move on further still, and evolve to Intelligent Twins that are fit for purpose for the needs of all-scenario intelligence - underpinned by AI and Cloud, with embedded integrated and ubiquitous connectivity at scale. What does this involve and what can the advance of Intelligent Twins offer for industries at large? This piece explores the key dynamics and to set the context, some core differentials between a Digital Replica, Digital Twins and Intelligent Twins are explored in Figure 1.
Figure 1 – Evolution of Intelligent Twins
As the demands, complexity and volatility of business ecosystems accelerates, so does the need to become data-first, capable of managing and optimising the insights from an ever increasing 3V’s of Data: Volume, Veracity and Velocity. And alongside this, to reflect the implications of evolving consumer expectations too, from personalised immersive experiences, right through to embedding sustainability by design. The advance of ubiquitous cloud and ‘intelligence on demand’ fit for all scenarios is foundational to address this context of continual change, with the Intelligent Twins proposed by Huawei as a reference architecture to enable ‘data-first’ and advance highly responsive intelligence for all enterprises.
Intelligent Twins are AI centric, open and continuously evolving with seamless collaboration across Cloud, Network, Edge and Device to allow a truly integrated and optimised intelligent system. Perceptive, conscious, actionable and evolvable, it constitutes 4 key components (Interaction, Connectivity, Hub, Application). And it is the collaboration across these parts that enables optimised data flow, holistic perception, precise judgements and overarching smart AI capability everywhere - and on demand. This is relevant and aligned to a partnership ethos across all industry sectors, from government and public utilities, to mobility, manufacturing and energy, and finance, healthcare, scientific research and beyond.
A range of examples in action can be found here, with key benefits discussed with Jacqueline Shi, Huawei President of Cloud & AI International Business:
‘For Smart City, intelligent twins will allow the government to oversee city operations through an integrated and collaborated infrastructure, and provide more convenient city service for citizens and enterprise. And for Smart Enterprise, intelligent twins can help enterprises optimise business processes, improve customer service experience, and accelerate business innovation’. And adding to this is support for Smart Society, with a plan to ‘dedicate to enhanced cooperation with high education institutions for talent cultivation so in the next 5 years, aiming to invest US$1.5 billion worldwide to encourage 5 million developers to join in the ecosystem’.
Let’s now summarise the 4 elements behind this architecture.
Acting as the ‘bridge’ between physical and digital space, this provides interactive and seamless flow capabilities to obtain comprehensive data across cloud-edge-devices and with a high level of interoperability.
The ‘brain’ of the decision-making system based on hybrid cloud infrastructure. This enables applications with inclusive AI capability and enhances network wide collaboration between applications and data flow, embedding intelligence for informed actions and innovations.
Combining ICT technologies and industry knowledge to provide smart services for citizens and enterprises alike with a strong emphasis on development through collaboration. The vision: to reimagine user experiences, optimise processes and enable innovation.
Essentially the ‘body’ of Intelligent Twins, connecting the hub and interactive layers. Additional scenarios for connectivity are within the hub itself (AI Cluster Servers and Cloud Data Centres) and connectivity between intelligent interaction devices, such as 4K drones, AI cameras and robotic arms.
Becoming data-first and providing ubiquitous cloud and intelligence fit for all scenarios clearly benefits from established domains of expertise in connectivity, cloud, computing, AI, and applications. This provides a dynamic foundation for ecosystem partners to build business and industry with personalised smarter capabilities that evolve to context and strategy. The Intelligent Twins actualisation is a key pillar in this journey to optimise not only the 3V’s of Data: Volume, Veracity and Velocity but further, to succeed in an ever increasing 4th V too –Volatility. The time is now to move beyond the Digital Replica and Digital Twins, to Intelligent Twins, and with it advance along the spectrum of Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom.
Prof. Sally Eaves is a highly experienced Chief Technology Officer, Professor in Advanced Technologies and a Global Strategic Advisor on Digital Transformation specialising in the application of emergent technologies, notably AI, FinTech, Blockchain & 5G disciplines, for business transformation and social impact at scale. An international Keynote Speaker and Author, Sally was an inaugural recipient of the Frontier Technology and Social Impact award, presented at the United Nations and has been described as the ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’ - founding Aspirational Futures to enhance inclusion, diversity and belonging in the technology space and beyond.
Dr. Sally Eaves is a highly experienced Chief Technology Officer, Professor in Advanced Technologies and a Global Strategic Advisor on Digital Transformation specialising in the application of emergent technologies, notably AI, FinTech, Blockchain & 5G disciplines, for business transformation and social impact at scale. An international Keynote Speaker and Author, Sally was an inaugural recipient of the Frontier Technology and Social Impact award, presented at the United Nations in 2018 and has been described as the ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’ founding Aspirational Futures to enhance inclusion, diversity and belonging in the technology space and beyond.