Digital Twins: It can start with you (and your cell phone)

What do we want?

    Time Travel!

When do we want it?

  It doesn't matter!

I just got back from 50 years in the future and everything has a Digital Twin.  Of course, I want to monetize my trip to the future, so getting ahead of the Digital Twin tsunami is my ticket (Oh, and a big early bet on the Gators winning the 16-team college football playoff in 2027).  

How do I get going?

The overall strategy is to identify your valuable assets and then think broadly about how to maximize it's value (which means extending collaboration and the Total Addressable Market = sell more services!).

In the meantime, what can I do?  I can start with my cell phone.

Reality Modeling (via ContextCapture) can provide immediate, high value to your current operations and projects, with little expertise and no new equipment.  Ultimately, high level, high accuracy "formal" reality modeling will be a foundation of most Digital Twins (see Orbit GT for how), extracting features, allowing monitoring of construction progress, asset performance (is your pavement severely cracked?), etc.

But right now, you have a project and you have your phone.  You're ready.

You might have an aerial photo (you should: all you have to do is have a proper GCS in your design file and Bing will show you the aerial (View Attributes > Background Map > Background Map Type > Aerial).  The aerials are valuable, but are generally not of asset-level detail.

You SHOULD have accurate 3D topography and improvement locations (I like the joke: GIS = Get It Surveyed).

So between the aerial and the 3D topo, do you know exactly what the site conditions are? 

Maybe if you've been on-site...

If you went on-site, did you take pictures?  Are they sitting in a folder on your computer somewhere (or on a server  or in the cloud)?  How easy is it to sift though those pictures to review some structure or asset?

What if you could just point some software to that folder and get a single object - accurate visual 3D - that seamlessly integrates into your current work environment?

Go out.  Take photos. Point Context Capture to it. Reference the resulting reality model to your project file and, bam!, you are on-site - in your office. Or on your tablet.

We are a visual species.  Having a 3D Reality Model as part of your project pumps up your ability to communicate from dial-up to broadband.  That alone is qualitative improvement in your office working experience.

Additional benefits:  "Hey, how was that concrete backfill over that water line cut?"  "I didn't notice during my visit.  Give me 30 seconds, I'll check my model."

Cracks and Utiities

"What was the engraving on that manhole cover?"  "30 seconds..."

So that's what you can do for your project right now.  For details of that 3D Reality Model - a 5-minute street/utility walkthrough capture - click here. That page includes a link to video of the capture and creation of the reality model and a link into the 3D Model that you can navigate in your browser.  (Note: this model took about 5-minutes to shoot, 10-minutes to input into Context Capture.  I did zero post processing to clean it up or to make it pretty.  It's simple and fast to get valuable results).

Here's a video of a model from cell phone shots of an Open Trench.  

In summary, Reality Models are a foundational component of many (most?) Digital Twins.  You can immediately add value to your workflows and projects with almost no learning curve.  It's a first step, but valuable even if you stop there.

For more professional 3D Models, Bentley Colleague Sam Hendrick has some more sophisticated (drone) 3D Models at and