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2019 Tech Trends III

The stages of maturity for Digital Twins. Credit: Element Analytics

Following on the previous posts on 2019 top tech trends let’s look at the 3 technologies that are expected to continue having a growing impact in 2019 but whose massive uptake is expected in the next decade:

  • Digital Twins -These are software representations of assets and processes to understand, predict, and optimize performance for improved business outcomes. A digital twin can be a digital representation of any characteristic of a real entity, including humans. The choice of which characteristics are digitized is determined by the intended use of the twin. Digital twins are already being used by many companies: according to analysts, 48% of companies in the IoT space have already started adopting them. This includes digital twins for very complex entities, such as an entire smart city (for example, Digital Singapore). Digital twins are also expected to play a transformational role in healthcare over the next three years.
    As shown in the graphic (it refers specifically to Assets Operators but it provides a blueprint for other areas as well), digital twins at present are used to monitor the operation whilst in the coming years they will be used more and more for forecasting (pre-emptive maintenance, including maintenance of our body!) through simulation that has to take into account both the digital twin (as mirror of the physical twin) and the operation environment, to further evolve into the business space (evaluating business implications) and into becoming autonomous entities (e.g. my digital twin will be able to act as my delegate to meetings where I won’t be able to attend…).
  • Real time ray tracing (RT2) – our brain is extremely sensitive to shadows, the assumed direction of light is key to interpret what we see (it is not just us, all animals, as far as we can tell through experiment assume light is coming form above and interpret shadows accordingly). By changing the position of light (ie using artificial illumination) a bas-relief can be perceived as an engraving. Hence, the importance of rendering images based on light ray direction. Several applications make this possible (like the Luminar sun-ray filter, used for photo post processing) but doing this in real time is extremely complex, yet it is what makes the difference between perceiving reality or an artefact when using virtual reality (and augmented reality) goggles.
    It is expected that RT2 will become mainstream in the next decade, further pushing the adoption of VR and AR.
  • Serverless computing – the idea behind serverless computing is the increase of granularity. Rather than accessing a “Cloud” (be it AWS, Azure, Google) a user accesses a micro functionality and create its own service locally. This micro functionality is offered by  Lambda-like functions (after the AWS Lambda – Google Cloud and Azure offer functions, but the name Lambda looks fancier and has caught up). By increasing granularity one increases the efficiency and this is also in line with the trend of moving intelligence, functions, from the core to the edge, and of virtualising network resources (functionality).

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.