A Digital Twin Could Create a Second You on the Internet

Cloning goes virtual

Key Takeaways

  • A new social network aims to create a second digital you. 
  • Your online clone is meant to take over the most routine tasks of everyday digital life, like sending emails.
  • Digital clones are already being used in everything from healthcare to car manufacturing.
Man looks at a digital avatar of himself made with a hologram

mikkelwilliam / Getty Images

Your digital twin could soon help you get things done, a new startup claims. 

The social network, called dduplicata, supposedly gives you a second digital self that's enhanced with artificial intelligence. The online clone is meant to take over the most routine tasks of everyday digital life, like sending emails. It's part of a growing movement to create a metaverse or network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connections. 

"I believe the importance of digital clones is going to grow as people begin to understand how they fit into their own lives and work," Luke Thompson, COO of visual effects company ActionVFX, told Lifewire in an email interview. "Not everything is about a video game. In fact, I've been working inside of virtual reality for over a year at this point."

You and You

The service dduplicata is still in beta, but it's got ambitious plans, even if they are vague.  

"Since each user's digital self is an AI made in their own image, it will naturally continue to live in cyberspace/metaverse after the user's physical death," Henrique Jorge, CEO of ETER9, wrote in an email to Lifewire. "In this way, each dduplicata user can become virtually immortal and will live forever in the Metaverse/Cyberspace."

"I believe the importance of digital clones is going to grow as people begin to understand how they fit into their own lives and work."

Thompson said having a digital version of himself is already integrated into his everyday life. He uses virtual reality meeting tools like ImmersedVR and Horizon Workrooms for remote meetings. 

As more people adopt virtual meeting technology, he said there would be a greater need for users to be adequately represented inside these digital environments. And the solution could be digital clones. 

"It's one thing to have a low-resolution cartoon-looking representation of yourself, but it's another to have a photorealistic version that properly represents oneself," Thompson said.

Making Cars in VR

If an online duplicate of you seems far-off, the concept of digital twins/copies could have more real-world uses. The game platform Unity powers 3D content, like Beat Saber, and carmaker Hyundai hopes to leverage the software to improve its smart manufacturing and autonomous driving technology.

Hyundai recently announced plans to use Unity to build a Meta-Factory, a digital-twin of an actual factory, supported by a metaverse platform. The Meta-Factory will allow Hyundai to test-run a factory virtually to calculate the optimized plant operation and enable plant managers to solve problems without physically visiting the plant.

"Real-time digital twins will permanently change how we live, work, shop, and make a positive impact on our planet, representing a significant component of what is often referred to as the metaverse," John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, said in the news release. "Hyundai's vision for the future, including the digital twin of factory operations, represents a significant technological step forward in manufacturing with unlimited potential in its efficiency."

Companies like Chevron use digital twins to predict maintenance issues faster, and Unilever uses a digital twin on the Azure IoT platform to analyze and fine-tune factory operations such as temperatures and production cycle times.

Digital twins are often used in commercial real estate and facilities planning, Matt Wright, an internet expert at Valence, told Lifewire in an email interview. "Imagine a large corporate campus that has been turned into an enormous digital twin that expands to other campuses and physical locations," Wright added. "What if that digital twin uses machine learning to optimize things like traffic, utilities, and weather?"

Identical men having a conversation

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Doctors are also starting to use digital twins of patients. Some medical devices now have the capabilities of producing digital copies of specific organs or conditions so doctors can better treat them, David Talby, the founder of John Snow Labs, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

“For example, creating the digital clone of a patient’s heart enables a doctor to zoom in, see exactly what’s going on—whether there is scarring from previous surgeries or an abnormality that needs to be inspected further—and make better decisions before an operation, rather than during,” he said. This can mean the difference between a 5- or 10- hour surgery and a world of difference for patient outcomes.”

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