The Curious Case of Digital Twins and Blockchain

The Curious Case of Digital Twins and Blockchain

Naveen Joshi 17/01/2020 3

Combining digital twin and blockchain will help businesses and brands protect their products from being counterfeited and help prevent financial losses.

One of the biggest concerns for businesses always has been counterfeiting of their products. Technology is everywhere and is advancing at a rapid pace. Hence, it has become much easier for fraudsters to create replicas and sell it to unsuspecting customers. And the paperwork that comes along with the products, too, are much easier to duplicate that adds to the authenticity of these fake products. Such instances not only result in financial losses for established brands but may also cause permanent reputational losses. Digital twin and blockchain can provide us a solution to thwart instances of such frauds and help businesses to maintain the authenticity of their offerings. The number of IoT devices will amount to over 20 billion by 2020. These devices will be able to support millions of digital twins. Digital twins will form one of the fundamental pillars of the digitization of physical objects. Blockchain technology, on the other hand, with its decentralized framework, will bring in transparency, further strengthening the security of the digital data.

Understanding Digital Twin and Blockchain

The concept of a digital twin is well-known in the technological world. A digital twin is basically a digital representation of physical objects, systems, and processes. A digital blueprint of a building will be its digital twin. Similarly, a computer simulation of an automobile transmission system, too, can be considered as a digital twin. Therefore, the term ‘digital twin’ can be applied to any digital representation of a physical entity. Blockchain technology, on the other hand, is a decentralized ledger with public records of all physical objects and transactions. The data can be viewed and verified publicly. However, modifications to it can be made only by authorized executives, and the ledger retains a history of every modification. Digital twin and blockchain can be leveraged together for their security features and help businesses thwart instances of fraud and duplication of their products and services. Here’s how both these technologies can work in tandem to increase security for your business.

Digital Twin and Blockchain: A Perfect Pair

Having a digital twin on the blockchain enables businesses to retain information about their products perpetually. Additionally, the data regarding transactions for these products too can be saved, allowing users to get complete details about the product during purchase. Buyers can verify the manufacturing place, the historical record of previous owners if any, the legitimacy of the products, and so on. It helps establish the authenticity and provenance of the product. Consider a smartphone accessory, for example. There exist cheap replicas of many mobile accessories with downgraded quality. Genuine customers are often tricked into buying these fake products by false advertising and marketing strategies such as discounts. And if a fake accessory can be made, fake documents too can be easily created to ‘prove’ its authenticity. By creating digital twins on the blockchain, the solution to this problem can be achieved in the form of digital certificates. Blockchain enables the creation of digital certificates that store data regarding the products registered by businesses. The data contained in the digital certificates cannot be copied, modified, or deleted by others. Businesses can register their items on blockchain platforms supporting the creation of digital twins or digital certificates. The digital certificate can be updated at every stage of the product cycle right from the manufacturing process. When the product is shipped, the same information regarding the place, mode, and shipping destination can be updated with timestamps. When customers buy the product, they can verify the authenticity of the item by verifying the digital twin of the product on the blockchain. After the item is purchased, the ownership of the item will be transferred to the owner by the authorized salesperson. All the previous data is stored as-is, and can’t be modified. This proves beneficial if the original owner wants to resell the product. The new customer can get exact details about the product before going ahead with the purchase. Once the product is sold, the ownership can be transferred again to the new owner, with the previous data being locked, and the cycle continues. Blockchain brings reliability and credibility to businesses and can act as an anti-counterfeiting and anti-theft technology. If implemented on a large scale by businesses all over the world, digital twin and blockchain have the capability to reduce instances of counterfeiting instances and scams dramatically. Unverified ownership will become a thing of the past, and people would be able to access complete details about every product. The concept of combining digital twin and blockchain can be applied in a plethora of industries, from manufacturing, healthcare, entertainment, and logistics. Here’s how the twinning of digital twin and blockchain can help the logistics, healthcare and utility sector.

Digital Twin and Blockchain in Logistics

Supply chain processes can be streamlined and secured using digital twin and blockchain. Shipping containers connected to the blockchain and embedded with IoT sensors can bring complete transparency in the logistics process. The items can be tracked and traced round the clock with IoT sensors creating a digital twin on the blockchain platform. This ensures that the various parties involved in the logistics process have complete information about the product and the transportation process. The documentation for the products, too, can be maintained on the blockchain ledger and eliminates instances of forgery or duplication. The documents containing product and payment information can be tracked digitally and are immutable. The logistics sector currently suffers from non-transparency issues, which the digital twin and blockchain partnership can significantly help in eliminating.

Digital Twin and Blockchain in Utilities

Digital twin and blockchain can be leveraged in the utility sector to enhance operations. The production and consumption of energy fluctuate significantly based on consumer behavior. The data collected by IoT devices connected to the smart energy grid can be used to bring transparency in the system. The energy consumption of individual consumers can be digitally updated on the blockchain. The physical meter can be replicated digitally with all the information present in a transparent manner. This gives businesses a clear understanding of variance in user consumption patterns, and the power production and supply can be adjusted accordingly. Similarly, the consumers, too, can access the data in real-time and can adjust their usage, if they feel their power consumption is going overboard.

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Digital Twin and Blockchain in Healthcare

The use of digital twin and blockchain in healthcare can prove to be life-saving in the medical field. A digital twin of a patient’s heart can be created by using a digital pacemaker. The digital twin allows cardiologists carrying out cardiac resynchronization therapy to precisely determine the position of leads on the specific patient. All the lead placement positions can be tried virtually to determine the best suitable position before the surgery actually begins. This can prove critical in many cases and be the difference between success and failure. Blockchain, on the other hand, can hold records of the medical history of the patient. The data can be accessed anytime by medical professionals in case the person develops any complications in the future.

Digital twins and blockchain have a lot to offer to various industries. Until recently, the implementation of these technologies in IoT devices faced technical and economic limitations. However, with the mass adoption and economic availability of IoT devices, digital twin is gaining popularity too. Blockchain has not witnessed mass adoption yet, but this, too, will change in the coming years. By merging both digital twin and blockchain technologies, a secure and effective decentralized digital ecosystem will soon turn into reality. Businesses, as well as consumers, can be assured of the security and authenticity of the products and services thanks to digital twin and blockchain.

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  • Luke Fowler

    Blockchain technology is the most efficient way to generate and exchange digital twins.

  • Tom Brooks

    Good post !

  • William Simpson

    This is impressive in that it combines a misunderstanding of one technique with a poor application of another to create a ridiculous solution that sounds sort of real. Good luck.

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Naveen Joshi

Tech Expert

Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.

   

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