New Azure IoT offering makes the physical, virtual

Microsoft will next month launch a public preview of an Azure IoT service that helps businesses build a digital representation of a physical environment.

The company said that ‘Azure Digital Twins’ will provide “a foundation for partners to build custom digital solutions that stay up-to-date with the physical world, as well as use advanced analytics to understand the past and predict future states for scenarios such as predictive maintenance, energy management and more.”

Microsoft said elevators, factory floors or office buildings were examples of the types of environments that could be represented using the service.

Customers can use the digital twin to implement business logic and workflows for the physical environment (one example offered by Microsoft is after a PowerPoint presentation is launched having a conference room’s lights automatically dim and the blinds lowered if necessary; when the meeting ends the lights could be restored to their usual level and air conditioning switched off).

In a blog entry, Sam George, Microsoft’s Azure IoT director, wrote that although in the past digital twins have generally been used for industrial equipment, they could be used to represent other physical environments, including “people, places and things and the relationships between them.”

George wrote that a number of Microsoft’s customers are already using Azure Digital Twins, including CBRE, Agder Energi, and Willow.

Alongside details the public preview of Azure Digital Twins, Microsoft used its Ignite conference to announce that its Azure Sphere IoT security offering and Azure Data Box Edge had both entered public preview.

WillowRail powered by Strukton

Earlier this month Willow unveiled ‘WillowRail powered by Strukton’. The company said that the platform, launched in partnership with Strukton Rail, is the first in the world to offer a digital twin of a physical rail network.

The platform can draw together hundreds of previously siloed and disconnected sources of information from across a rail network, the company said.

“Over the last decade, rail owners have invested in digitising their operations and assets. This combined with the use of many dozens of different tools, platforms and systems – each with their own view of the world and data set – presents a considerable information challenge for owners and operators,” said Willow’s managing director and chief operating officer, Gerard Francis.

“Up to this point, rail owners and managers have simply accepted that information, which they should rightly have access to, is not within easy reach, siloed in proprietary systems.”

“Without a single source of truth, teams across a rail network are operating in siloes, managers are forced to ‘connect the dots’ on their own, and the approach to problem solving is reactive,” the Willow MD said.

“WillowRail powered by Strukton provides data democratisation for the first time ever, enabling owners and operators to make sense of all the data inputs, and be in a position to turn that information into a valuable insight.”

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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