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Improving Human-Machine Interaction with Spatial Computing

The Digital Twin Consortium and AREA are working together to accelerate use cases for spatial computing—technologies that integrate digital twins and augmented reality to facilitate more dynamic interactions between workers and machines.

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Increasingly, digital twin and augmented reality (AR) technologies are working in tandem with one another to enable more seamless interactions between people, processes, and machines in complex physical spaces. This growing trend is sometimes classified underneath the umbrella term spatial computing, where artificial intelligence, camera sensors, computer vision capable of tracking environmental changes, and AR wearables that provide workers with a user interface combine.

While data derived from Internet of Things connectivity allows digital twin simulations to be created from physical assets, spatial computing technology extends those simulations by using spatial perception and physical movement as additional input data. For example, human workers or autonomous mobile robots navigating a plant floor could provide data pertaining to their changing location to create a more dynamic digital twin. Similarly, remote workers could use AR headsets to directly interact with a digital twin in real-time.

To accelerate the development of spatial computing, the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA) and the Digital Twin Consortium have recently signed a memo of understanding to jointly explore use cases for spatial computing that improve reliability, increase compliance and risk management, reduce maintenance costs, bolster productivity, and enable more effective training procedures. AREA is reportedly the only global non-profit member organization dedicated to the adoption of interoperable AR-enabled enterprise systems. The Digital Twin Consortium, which was founded by the Object Management Group in 2020 to accelerate the market for digital twin technologies, is primarily aimed at working with industry, government, and academia to facilitate consistency in the vocabulary, architecture, security, and interoperability of digital twin technology.

Specific goals cited in the agreement between AREA and the Digital Twin Consortium include: Defining industry requirements for spatial computing; increasing interoperability among technology components that enable spatial computing; aligning work currently underway to accelerate the adoption of digital twin and AR technology; and developing proof-of-value projects and programs, as well as joint marketing efforts.

"AR and digital twins are an ideal combination, as together they allow users to visualize the invisible," said Dan Isaacs, chief technology officer at the Digital Twin Consortium. "This includes enhancing situational awareness and event intelligence for training in assembly, installation, maintenance, operation, compliance assurance, and safety."

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