Here’s a phrase we’ll be hearing a lot more of in 2022: digital twins.
In earth observation, it’s a photorealistic digital 3D replica of a real location, a concept made possible by technological advancements from the 3D modeling and gaming sectors, like Epic Games’ Unreal Engine.
I know this because the Unreal Engine is the foundation upon which we’re building Terris’s earth observation platform.
We’re not alone in turning to a gaming platform to illustrate the real world. Audi, NFL Red Zone, The Weather Network, and HOK, the architectural firm renovating Canada’s Parliament, are also Unreal Engine partners.
When we hear and read about the metaverse, it is this type of technology that sits at the heart of the concept, that ability to recreate the real world in digital form via digital twins.
There are two primary reasons gaming platforms are leading us into the metaverse and both are deeply rooted in core values of the entertainment sector.
First, gaming companies are experts at creating worlds we want to be in. Whether it’s Forza’s supercar racing world, the fantasy world of The Witcher, or Epic Games’ battle royale world of Fortnite, the visualizations in these games are so cool, we want to explore these worlds as much as we want to play the game. These are digital spaces we aren’t in any rush to leave.
Contrast that pure enjoyment we get from games, with the low-level frustrations and boredom we experience when working in programs designed for work.
Utilitarian by design, they give us the facts and little else. They neither hold our attention nor encourage our creativity.
That connects to the gaming world’s second core value: those awesome visualizations and attention to detail, encourages the user to get play.
We dress up our avatars, soup up our vehicles, construct cities, and practise intricate interior design. We build our own pretend world within these digital worlds, driven by our imaginations.
Only now it doesn’t have to be pretend. We can take these power capabilities of photorealistic visualizations and creative design built into the Unreal Engine and apply them to the real world.
To play around and consider the best location for a new solar energy field on the side of a mountain, to consider the impact new construction will have in a dense urban space, to predict what will happen to a oceanside community as sea water levels rise, and to map a path to safety following a natural or man-made disaster.
That’s the power of digital twins: to be able to see the solution in a digital space so it can be safely and affordably applied in our world.
From my office in Fredericton, I am seeing a view of the earth taking shape via Terris’s earth observation and AI platform.
A world of solutions coming into play, that’s the future of earth observation and we’re excited to dive in.