Azure Digital Twins: Powering the next generation of IoT connected solutions

Posted on June 29, 2020

Principal PM Manager, Azure IoT

Digital Twins

Last month at Microsoft Build 2020, we announced the new features for Azure Digital Twins, the IoT platform that enables the creation of next-generation IoT connected solutions that model the real world. Today, we are announcing that these updated capabilities are now available in preview. Using the power of IoT, businesses have gained unprecedented insights into their assets. But as connected solutions continue to evolve, companies are looking for ways to create richer models of entire business environments, which is quite challenging even for sophisticated businesses.

Our goal with Azure Digital Twins is to make the creation of sophisticated digital twin solutions easy. With today’s announcement, you can apply your domain expertise on top of Azure Digital Twins to design and build comprehensive digital models of entire environments.

Using Azure Digital Twins, you can gain insights that drive better products, optimization of operations, cost reduction, and breakthrough customer experiences. And you can now do so across environments of all types, including buildings, factories, farms, energy networks, railways, stadiums—even entire cities.

What’s new?

We received a lot of valuable feedback from the Azure Digital Twins preview and we are excited to share the expanded capabilities of Azure Digital Twins that will simplify and accelerate your creation of IoT connected solutions.

Digital Twins architecture diagram.

Open modeling language

The new preview of Azure Digital Twins lets you create custom models of any connected environment. Using the rich and flexible Digital Twins Definition Language (DTDL), based on the JSON-LD standard, you can configure your Azure Digital Twins service to tailor to the specific needs of your use case.

Real-world environments are created from connected twins. Each twin is modeled using properties, telemetry events, components, and relationships that define how twins can be connected into rich knowledge graphs. DTDL is also used for models throughout other Azure IoT services, including IoT Plug and Play and Azure Time Series Insights.

DTDL is the glue that helps you keep your Azure Digital Twins solution connected and compatible with other parts of the Azure ecosystem.

As part of our commitment to openness and interoperability, we will continue to promote best practices and shared digital twin models for a wide range of businesses and industry domains through the Digital Twins Consortium and other channels to accelerate your time building valuable IoT connected solutions that span many industry verticals and use cases.

Live execution environment

Azure Digital Twins lets you bring your digital twins to life using data from IoT and other data sources, creating an always-up-to-date digital representation of your environment that is scalable and secure.

Using a robust event system, you can build dynamic business logic and data processing as data flows through the execution environment, and now, you can harness the power of external compute resources, such as Azure Functions. This makes it easy to use pre-existing code with Azure Digital Twins, which provides freedom of choice in terms of programming languages and compute models.

To extract insights from the live execution environment, Azure Digital Twins provides a powerful query system that allows you to search for twins based on a wide range of conditions and relationships.

Input from IoT and business systems

You can easily connect assets such as IoT and IoT Edge devices, as well as existing business systems such as ERP and CRM, to Azure Digital Twins to drive the live execution environment.

You can now use a new or existing Azure IoT Hub to connect, monitor, and manage all of your assets at scale, taking advantage of the full device management capabilities that IoT Hub provides. The ability to use any existing Hub makes it easier to add Azure Digital Twins to existing IoT solutions incrementally.

Using the Azure Digital Twins REST APIs, you can also use data sources other than IoT, unlocking even more actionable insights with Azure Digital Twins.

Output to Azure Time Series Insights, storage, and analytics

You can integrate Azure Digital Twins with other Azure services to build complete end-to-end solutions. You can define event routes that send selected data to downstream services through endpoints that support Event Hubs, Event Grid, or Service Bus Event routes to send data to Azure Data Lake for long term storage; to data analytics services such as Azure Synapse Analytics to apply machine learning; to Logic Apps for workflow integration; or to Power BI to extract insights. Another important use case is time series data integration and historian analytics with Azure Time Series Insights.

Combined, these capabilities greatly simplify today’s difficult tasks of modeling and creating a digital representation of an environment, helping you focus on what differentiates your business rather than building and operating complex, distributed systems architecture securely and at scale.

Innovating with customers and partners

Azure Digital Twins is already being used by a broad set of customers and partners. Below are a few examples showcasing the applicability of Azure Digital Twins across a wide range of industries:

Ansys Twin Builder: physics-based digital twins

Physics-based simulation has long been an essential part of the product design process, helping engineers to optimize and validate design choices. With the broad deployment of IoT sensors in products and their environment, it is now possible to apply the same simulation technology after a product has been built, shipped, and deployed in the field.  Simulation technology can be used to optimize performance and energy usage or predict failures in a highly accurate and immediate way, without the complexities associated with alternative techniques.

“Ansys Twin Builder lets engineers quickly deliver real-time simulation models for operational use. With Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins platform, it is now possible to efficiently integrate the simulation-based twins into a broader IoT solution.” —Sameer Kher, Senior Director, Twin Builder Product Line for Ansys 

Ansys Twin Builder.

Bentley iTwin: infrastructure digital twins

In the world of infrastructure development, complex computer-aided design (CAD) data is the backbone of planning, execution, and operation of major infrastructures, such as road and rail networks, public works and utilities, industrial plants, and commercial and institutional facilities. Bentley’s iTwin platform captures geometry and metadata of the project and its environment as the source of truth that drives daily decisions throughout the entire lifecycle of the project. As a developer, you can think of it as GitHub for CAD.

“Using Azure Digital Twins, we can bring this backbone to life using raw and processed information from IoT sensors distributed throughout the infrastructure. By bringing a wide range of information sources together into a comprehensive Digital Twin, including CAD data, real-world scans and photometry, IoT sensor data, weather feeds and many more, we can revolutionize the way infrastructure projects are planned, built and operated.” —Pavan Emani, Vice President, iTwin software development for Bentley 

Bentley iTwin.
To learn more about the customers and partners using Azure Digital Twins in exciting ways, we encourage you to visit the customer stories covering a spectrum of industry use cases.
   Digital Twins customers.

Get started

We look forward to continuing to deliver on our commitment of simplifying and accelerating your time to value building next-generation IoT connected solutions. We are excited about the role Azure Digital Twins will play helping you gain valuable insights across your environments.

Watch this video to learn more:

 

Get started with Azure Digital Twins today.