There are so many things that have to go right with a new IoT product before it can be sold to the public. For hardware developers, managing all of these variables and unknowns can be an overwhelming, daunting task. One of the most common and biggest barriers to product launch is the requirement to develop physical prototypes. Developers might waste precious time developing and testing each new prototype. Working with a digital twin can bring in significant time and cost savings.
What is Digital Twinning & Virtual Prototyping?
Even when new IoT products are successfully launched into the market, product improvements and iterations still take time. Often, new problems with the product only emerge as a result of large-scale deployments. These kinds of problems can be nearly impossible to replicate and solve since developers cannot reproduce the exact failure conditions on their hardware. Enter digital twinning – the digital solution to physical problems inherent to product development.
Digital Twinning is the process of creating a virtual model that replicates a physical object or system. Digital twinning provides a way for developers to improve and manage hardware prototypes throughout the lifecycle of a product, not just at its conception. Furthermore, since products and prototypes exist virtually, it is significantly easier to replicate, test, and solve for a wide range of failure conditions. The key to digital twinning lies in virtual prototyping.
Virtual prototyping is the practice of creating a digital adaptation of a physical component. Virtual prototypes – or virtutypes as we like to call them – have all of the important benefits of physical prototypes but without many of the downsides. Developing virtutypes enables engineers to avoid the heavy cost of physical development, while still realistically testing and simulating complex systems. Engineers are also increasingly moving towards using digital platforms for development. As a new chapter in rapid prototyping, virtual prototyping enables developers and engineers to design with speed and flexibility like never before.
The Benefits of Virtual Prototypes and Digital Twins
IoT devices are proliferating at a rapid pace. Many hardware development teams don’t have the luxury of time, money, or resources to develop working physical prototypes for every new device and use case. But digital twinning technology enables them to test their designs and optimize them for significantly less cost:
✓ No need for a physical lab setup
✓ Replicate specific failure conditions virtually
✓ Collaboration with remote teams
✓ Zero component lead-time
✓ Wide selection of physical devices and components
We built Sahara Cloud because we believe that digital twinning and virtutypes will improve costs and efficiency problems that have long been plaguing the hardware industry.
Specifically for embedded and IoT hardware development, a virtutype lifecycle platform enables developers to:
- Inject test conditions into the digital twin that can replicate the exact conditions of a physical system. A wide array of data such as weather conditions, location history, communication delays, and more can be used as additional inputs.
- Virtual testing is done in a hermetic virtual environment, giving developers both enormous scale and high granularity. This ensures repeatability and accelerates development.
- Continuous integration and continuous delivery based on real-world pin inputs or outputs allow for safer upgrades and deeper insight into past bugs. Regression testing can now happen at every step of development, and even after product launch.
The Future of Hardware Prototyping
The world has already started to see the fruits of this monumental shift in engineering towards virtual prototyping. Companies, such as GE, Bosch, Nissan, and Siemens are leading the way. But this is just the tip of the iceberg: over the next 10 years, the global digital twin software market is forecasted to grow from $1.4 billion to $52 billion by 2032. It’s no wonder that people have begun referring to this transformation as “Industry 4.0.” In short, we’re seeing an unprecedented opportunity for companies to optimize their products and services with digital twinning — all while benefiting from greater reliability, efficiency, and cost savings like never before.
In the past decade, digital twins have gone from a concept on a drawing board to a foundational technology of the digital industrial revolution. “Digital Twin” is more than a buzzword; it represents a fundamental shift in engineering and software. The changes will be nothing short of breathtaking—and essential.
What are your thoughts on how digital twins and virtual prototyping will impact the future of hardware? Comment below and let us know.
If you are interested in trying out our virtutyping platform for hardware development, Sahara Cloud is currently in private beta and users can sign up for the waitlist here.