As we continue to innovate and push the boundaries of technology, the digital world becomes more capable of modeling a physical environment. The’ virtual twin’ is one concept at the forefront of this digital transformation.’ This technology has the potential to make a substantial impact on commercial real estate. But what exactly is a virtual twin?

Defining the concept: What is a virtual twin?

A virtual twin is a dynamic and advanced virtual model of a physical object, system, or process. This dynamic model uses real-time data to mirror its physical counterpart. It allows users to simulate the outcomes of test scenarios within the virtual model to help optimize the real-world object. In commercial real estate (CRE), a virtual twin could represent a building or an entire property, providing a comprehensive view of its structure, systems, and occupancy.

The origin and evolution behind the technology

The concept of the virtual twin originated from the digital twin idea, which started in the field of product lifecycle management (PLM) in the early 2000s by Michael Grieves. It was initially used to simulate and optimize product performance. As technology advanced, particularly in IoT, AI, and cloud computing, the capabilities of the digital twin expanded, enabling immersive simulations called virtual twins.

Its role in the construction industry

Just like digital twins in construction, virtual twins are also significantly impacting the industry. They can simulate the final structure and its environment, helping architects and engineers anticipate potential challenges and optimize designs before breaking ground. They can also monitor construction progress in real-time, identify deviations from the plan, and suggest necessary adjustments.

Virtual twins vs digital twins

Although the terms ‘virtual twin’ and ‘digital twin’ are frequently used interchangeably, they have distinct differences. Digital twin technology refers to the virtual replication of a physical asset. It uses real-time data to generate models of building systems used to simulate potential scenarios.

A virtual twin expands on this concept by providing a more immersive and interactive experience by simulating the entire environment of a property. It typically incorporates advanced visualization techniques and VR/AR technologies.

How are they connected to metaverses?

Virtual and digital twins form the foundation of metaverses, expansive digital universes that mirror our physical world. Real estate can exist in a digital format in a metaverse, allowing individuals to interact with properties virtually. This could redefine property viewing, management, and even ownership by providing a comprehensive virtual view of a property.

Virtual twins in Proptech

With a digital replication of a property, Proptech solutions become more effective. They can directly test system alterations to optimize efficiency. These tests on a virtual replica become cost-effective and immediate, allowing you to test scenarios and optimize functionality continuously.

But to run these simulations effectively, you need to connect your data. As your building’s operating system, ProptechOS creates a unified environment for your building data and your Proptech solutions. This integration gives your virtual twins the information they need to accurately model an entire property and the impacts of its environment. You can try ProptechOS for free to see how unified data and Proptech can enhance your real estate performance.

Top 10 uses of the virtual twin technology in CRE

From design and construction to building and tenant management, virtual twin technology continues to find new uses as the adoption of the technology grows. The top ten benefits today include:

  1. Predictive maintenance: Virtual twins simulate wear and tear, predicting system failures before they occur.
  2. Optimization of energy efficiency: Through energy usage modeling, virtual twins identify areas for energy-saving interventions.
  3. Analysis of space utilization: Using spatial and occupancy data, you can test space reconfigurations in the virtual twin and simulate the space’s utilization.
  4. Tenant engagement: Virtual twins offer a digital platform for enhanced tenant communication and services.
  5. Asset valuation: By collecting comprehensive building data, virtual twins assist in accurate asset valuation.
  6. Disaster mitigation: Virtual twins enable disaster scenario simulations, helping plan effective responses.
  7. Indoor navigation: A virtual property simulation can become an effective navigation tool.
  8. Remote property viewing: Virtual twins allow for immersive remote tours of properties.
  9. Integration with smart building technologies: As a central hub, virtual twins unify various smart technologies for a comprehensive view of operations.
  10. Sustainability planning and reporting: Virtual twins can track and report sustainability metrics and compare them to set goals to aid in environmental compliance and planning.

What will the future bring? Challenges and opportunities ahead

Future developments include more sophisticated simulations, integration with other technologies like blockchain for property transactions, and the creation of fully digital real estate markets in metaverses.

However, these opportunities come with significant challenges. These include managing the vast amounts of data generated by virtual twins, ensuring data security and privacy, and overcoming the technical and financial barriers associated with implementing this advanced technology.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of virtual twin technology make it a compelling prospect for the future of commercial real estate. The possibilities are virtually limitless as we continue to bridge the gap between the physical and digital.

Join the leaders in property technology—experience our top-tier ecosystem. Book a demo to see our commitment to net positive energy, cost efficiency, and superior tenant value.

Dr. Erik Wallin

Chief Ecosystem Officer, and founder of ProptechOS and RealEstateCore is recognized as a leader in Building Operating Systems (BOS) and making the buildings of the world smarter. He holds an MSc and a Ph.D. in Media and Computer Science from KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Read his full bio and information here.