Layered Realities:Merging realities through digital twins

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As metaverse interactions become more commonplace, there will be a growing expectation for multi-reality experiences and we will inhabit increasingly fluid realities, moving seamlessly between the virtual and physical worlds.

Analysis

In the coming years, developments in AI, rapid prototyping and sensorial technologies will open up new forms of creativity, ushering a new wave of phygital creators as well as augmented and personalised experiences that heighten the senses. Wearable technology will enable us to overlay entertainment and productivity-focused information onto the physical world through AR.

As we navigate the two worlds, we will also be embracing the concept of digital twins, where a dynamic, evolving virtual representation of a physical asset, person or system is used to digitally model performance, identify inefficiencies and design solutions to improve its physical counterpart.  In fact, investment in the space of digital twin technologies is estimated to reach over $4bn by 2026. This will open up new possibilities of what can be achieved through technology in a range of fields from design to urban planning to health. It will also alter how we relate to technology, inspiring new forms, realities, identities and sensibilities.

Today, designers are starting to harness the creative potential of digital twins by stitching meta-experiences into the physical space. Artist Daniel Arsham recently collaborated with metaverse company Everyrealm to create a virtual installation staged in a real-life setting. The work merged the physical works of Arsham including furniture, sculptures and design objects, with a mirrored infinity space created by artist HAZE.  Projection-mapping and time-based digital animation were stitched together to create a virtual interaction that surrounded the physical elements, allowing an experience that existed in real life and simultaneously in the metaverse, both of which the audience can experience on location.

Governments are also starting to embrace the concept of digital twins. Last year, Simon Kofe, foreign minister of Tuvalu, said that the small Pacific nation plans to build a digital version of itself as a form of survival. By replicating its islands, ocean, landmarks and artefacts in the digital world, it aims to preserve Tuvalu’s history and culture as rising sea levels threaten to submerge the island.

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Why it matters

The merging of physical and digital aspects of life will continue to propel designers and creators to explore the possibilities of digital twin technologies, as it gives life to an experience enriched by both realms. By embracing dual modes of existence correctly, these advancements will combine the best of physical and virtual worlds, benefiting everyone involved.

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