Why infrastructure needs the metaverse

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For most people, using the Internet is completely natural., while we work, play, socialize and entertain ourselves with swipes, clicks and voice commands. And while the metaverse is relatively new, its benefits to infrastructure are so compelling that it’s quickly becoming natural to apply it to large construction projects. So it should be with the natural evolution of digital twin technology.

The beautiful blurry boundaries of technology and human experience

To me, the metaverse is best explained as a two-way interaction between the natural world and the digital world. Bidirectional means you can enter the digital world (you jump) for a virtual experience, a bit like a game, or the digital world can come to you through touch commands, voice, gestures, and eye movements. That’s the metaverse (and meta means ‘more complete’ if you’re curious).

It’s like a virtual time machine. The relevance of the metaverse in infrastructure is that digital twins draw on rich engineering data and multiple sources of information from the natural world, such as earth models and environmental data, to create a realistic digital representation of a complex infrastructure project, imagined or already built. . Digital twins can track and visualize real-world conditions through Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices such as drones and sensors that capture detailed, real-time data that allows you to explore past, present, or even future stages of an event. Project.

Meetings are not boring. Imagine all the people who need to make crucial decisions on a project, sitting in their wireless VR or mixed reality headsets, being teleported inside a virtual digital twin project. Make decisions and see “what ifs” in real time. Welcome to the metaverse – you can do it today. This is where infrastructure digital twins and the metaverse collide.

Creating calm control in the raging whitewater of big construction

The benefits of the metaverse are evident when one considers that traditional construction planning typically involved 3D computer models (often several) to represent different aspects of construction, i.e. structural engineering, ground conditions, slope stability, etc. traffic flow, atmospheric factors, along with separate project schedules.

Staying on schedule with thousands of moving parts, material management, sequencing, workforce coordination, and the collateral effect of supply chain disruptions meant that even a highly experienced project manager was dealing with a high degree of uncertainty. . Against this background of the whitewater project, much hope was placed on the delivery of the project plan.

The 4D element of time is important here. Combining 3D models with the project schedule enables 4D construction planning. The metaverse allows you to step forward to see the consequences of your decisions on the long-term sustainability of the project, from planning, through construction, to operations and maintenance.

A case study to validate the benefits of the metaverse is the France-based ITER project, which involves some 35 countries collaborating to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion as a utility-scale, carbon-free energy source. The project team leveraging digital twins and their clients are now virtually teleporting to this large-scale nuclear fusion electricity generation facility under construction.

The virtual experience is enabled by SYNCHRO 4D and iTwin, along with NVIDIA Omniverse, Unreal Engine for Oculus Quest 2, and Azure Remote Rendering for Microsoft HoloLens 2. This combination enables engineering-grade micron-precision digital content to be displayed across multiple devices such as web browsers. , workstations, tablets and virtual reality and augmented reality headsets from anywhere in the world.

Those who have had the digitally immersive experience of the ITER project, and who have had the opportunity to put their boots on the ground and walk through the actual installation, are surprised at how familiar it is. Why? Because they have already experienced it virtually. The human experience, aside from the awe of being in a cathedral-sized engine room, is an extraordinary sense of calm and confidence as construction progress is where they knew it would be. Site visitors can observe large, irregularly shaped spaces where pre-assembled components are scheduled to be plugged in later. With digital testing, they know that components will fit, even with extremely low tolerances, because they have already been installed many times in the virtual world.

It’s a perfectly natural thing to walk, look, explore, and chat on any big construction project, as it’s perfectly natural to do this in the digital world. You can see and experience it before you build it. The boundaries are beautifully blurred.

With the metaverse becoming part of our human experience, I see it as inevitable that it will be a part of our daily activities. We’re already interacting with data in entirely new ways with gestures and voice, rather than point and click. Imagine this dimension of being an avatar within a digital twin, fully immersing and interacting with the asset, not just a bystander, viewing it from a distance. You are part of the metaverse.

In infrastructure, digital twins and the metaverse offer all the business benefits of 4D planning, virtual teleportation, and collaboration to solve challenging problems in real time, all for more sustainable outcomes.

It’s an extraordinary evolution of open digital twin technology that feels as natural as taking a walk.

Keith Bentley is CTO of Bentley Systems.


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