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Digital Twin, I and Opportunities

Author Petri Seppänen
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About a month ago I bought a new GPS running watch. The watch has many features to track your training and how you sleep. One of the new features compared to my old watch was that the user can pair gear (running shoes, bicycles, etc.) with the watch. The user can monitor and track how many kilometers have been cycled with a specified bike. or how many kilometers the user runs with certain shoes. This feature is quite a useful add-on to other information I get from the watch.

Later that day, I went running with my older Nike Structure 18s ( I have a couple of pairs of running shoes). During the run, I started wondering why 400 miles (about 644 km) was used as the default value when I paired my Structure 20s with the watch. Where does that number come from?

I did not find any explanation for this, but I brainstormed that I have a primitive digital twin of my shoes and how shoe manufacturers could utilize it and what kind of business opportunities a digital twin could create? To understand the results of my brainstorming, one should first understand what a digital twin is.

“A digital twin is a virtual/simulated model of a process, product or service. It is a link between the virtual and real worlds, and it uses and generates data from these worlds to predict performance, to prevent problems and issues, to help companies understand the needs and demands of the customer, to create new business opportunities and to give more value to shareholders by utilizing simulation.” – Petri Seppänen

Digital twin in my wrist

My daily life is presented in graphs and figures. You can also call this as a digital twin because the watch can predict my time for the next half marathon based on my training. I hope this digital twin on my wrist will guide me to improve my time for the half marathon by 20 minutes.

You may have heard the word digital twin a few times already this year, and you may think that it is just a new hype or a buzzword. The concept of a digital twin has been around since 2002, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). One could say that it has been around since the Apollo program in some way, but this is not important. The most important thing is what you can do with a digital twin and what benefits you can derive from it.

“The digital twin provides a new layer of engineering insight by replicating the performance of products in operation” – Erik Bantegnies and Sudhir Sharma, ANSYS.

The idea of a digital twin for running shoes can be used as an example to illustrate the benefits of digital twins.  What kind of services and business opportunities could it create? Here is the list from my brainstorming:

Research and development

  • Designers and engineers will get more data to design new shoes
  • It makes it possible to design shoes for a particular runner by utilizing the running dynamics of the runner
  • New running shoe concepts, for example, adjustable torsional stiffness

Business opportunities

  • Digital twin could help the runner to prevent injuries
  • Application helps the runner choose the correct shoes and insoles based on running style and dynamics
  • More accurate coaching
  • Coaching services

Running dynamics

  • New metrics, ground contact pressure, and pressure distribution
  • More precise ground contact time
  • More precise ground contact balance

Running

  • More accurate information about wear and tear
  • Helps to identify when it is the right time to change running shoes to prevent injuries
  • Find the root cause of lack of speed
  • Find the root cause of injuries
  • Prevent future injuries by providing warnings and by guiding the runner how to run

The digital twin of running shoes was the prologue to a blog series “Digital twins, R&D, and business opportunities. I am hoping this upcoming series will help you learn to use and utilize the enormous potential of digital twins and take your business and product development to a new level. We should start imagining the considerable impact digital twins may have on our businesses in the not-so-distant future.

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Petri Seppänen

M.Sc. , (Mechanical Engineering), B.Eng (Automotive) - Before joining Elomatic in 2015, Petri Seppänen worked as a technical consultant in the automotive sector (Consulted OEMs and tier-1 component suppliers) and at the Aalto University as a member of the fuel cell development team. Since 2008, Seppänen has researched, developed and commercialised new technoloies for everyday use. Seppänen is specialised in multibody simulations (MBS) and optimisation (parametric and non-parametric). Additive manufacturing is a natural sequel to his previous areas of specialisation.

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