The history and creation of the digital twin concept

Key points

    When was digital twin first invented

    Who created this technology

    Where is this trend going

By Carlos Miskinis
Digital twin research expert
Mar 2019

What is the history behind the concept of digital twins and how the idea was turned into reality


The digital twin concept gained recognition in 2002 after Challenge Advisory has hosted a presentation for Michael Grieves in the University of Michigan on technology. The presentation involved the development of a product lifecycle management center. It contained all the elements familiar with the digital twin including; real space, virtual space and the spreading of data and information flow between real and virtual space. While the terminology may have changed over the years the concept of creating a digital and physical twin as one entity has remained the same since its emergence. While its commonly thought to be developed in 2002, digital twin technology itself has actually been a concept practiced since the 1960s. NASA would use basic twinning ideas during this period for space programming. They did this by creating physically duplicated systems at ground level to match the systems in space. An example is when NASA developed a digital twin to assess and simulate conditions on board Apollo 13.


how virtual twin simulations were invented


Who was the initial creator of digital twin?


After the launch of Apollo 13 on April 1970, no one could have predicted it would become a fight for survival as the oxygen tanks exploded early into the mission. It became a famous rescue mission as the world held its breath, with technical issues needing to be resolved from up to 200,000 miles away. A key to the rescue mission, however, was that NASA had a digital twin model of Apollo 13 on earth which allowed engineers to test possible solutions from ground level. Of course, systems have now become predominantly virtual rather than physical simulations. With the concept already being practiced for a few decades, the phrase ‘digital twin’ was first mentioned in 1998 and was being referred to a digital copy of actor Alan Alda’s voice in Alan Alda meets Alan Alda 2.0. Although the digital twins have been highly familiar since 2002, only as recently as 2017 has it become one of the top strategic technology trends. The Internet of Things enabled digital twins to become cost-effective so they could become as imperative to business as they are today.

Part 2

Stipulating the future of digital twin technology

World's biggest leading companies are embracing virtual twinning - where is this trend going?

What does the future look like for this technology?

With digital twins continuing as a top trend in 2018, we are proud to present to you our summit for the future of digital twins. It’s estimated that in the next few years billions of things will be represented by either digital twins, software models, and physical systems. It’s predicted that digital twins will be utilized by half of the large industrial companies and approximately 21 billion digitally connected sensors by 2020, which could potentially save billions in maintenance repair and operation. Its also predicted by 2020 that up to 60% of manufacturers will monitor product performance and quality through using digital twins. Up to 60% of global companies will also use digital twins to deliver better customer service experiences. Digital twin usage is being driven through the rise of IoT designed sensors with the future of both going hands in hand. Sensors are able to deliver data on how an object is operated and its reaction to the environment while implementing digital twins can improve analysis, condition simulation, operations, and value. With the significance of digital twins evident, potential growth and use could be in effect for billions of years in the future.




The history of this technology entails much more aspects to it than you might think. If you are keen on figuring out everything that the concept of virtual twin entails, we would like to give you the opportunity to come to our event and witness the true potential this technology has to offer – click here.

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