Siemens and Microsoft Work to Standardize Digital Twin Definition Language

May 8, 2024
Using the W3C Thing Description standard will ease the exchange of digital twin models and related data.

Working with the W3C Consortium, Siemens and Microsoft have announced their commitment to converge the Digital Twin Definition Language (DTDL) with the Thing Description standard from international standards organization, W3C. 
By unifying these two languages, the organizations say users will have more consistent digital twin modeling experiences. This move to standardize these languages is based on how end users typically deploy a mix of vendors’ technologies, which can lead to lock-in and high integration efforts. 

Microsoft's Digital Twin Definition Language enables modeling of the physical world with Azure services, while the W3C Thing Description standard provides an interoperable representation of device interfaces and their incorporation of standard industry ontologies. During the initial stages of convergence, Microsoft says it has found both languages have many conceptual similarities.

According to W3C, a Thing Description describes the metadata and interfaces of Things, where a Thing is an abstraction of a physical or virtual entity that provides interactions to and participates in the Web of Things. Thing Descriptions provide a set of interactions based on a small vocabulary that makes it possible to integrate diverse devices and to allow diverse applications to interoperate. 

Siemens and Microsoft say standardizing digital twin languages is crucial for interoperability to ensure seamless communication and integration between different digital twin systems and platforms.

“Ever since we invented the Digital Twin Definition Language and open-sourced its specification and reference implementations, we planned to standardize it through a consortium like the W3C,” said Erich Barnstedt, chief architect standards, consortia and industrial IoT, Azure Edge and Platform team at Microsoft. “Therefore, merging DTDL with W3C Thing Description, in close partnership with Siemens, is the natural next step in our journey to democratize digital twins in the industry.”

Siemens is facilitating the W3C Thing Description standard for its future products in building management, power distribution and smart grids.
"We see the convergence of two very similar Digital Twin languages like the DTDL and the W3C Thing Description as an essential move that will enable customers to describe the physical world in a way that is agnostic to specific IoT platforms,” said Thomas Kiessling, chief technology officer at Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “This strategic alliance underscores our commitment to fostering collaboration and embracing openness."

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