Cloud and edge computing are coming together like never before, offering enormous opportunities for developers and organizations around the world. Digital twins, mixed reality and autonomous systems form the core of a massive wave of innovation from which our customers are already benefiting.
From the outside it is not always clear how this technology is converging or what advantages can be achieved by bringing these functions together. Therefore at Microsoft Build We talk about the ways this convergence is creating, how customers are already benefiting from it, and how we are making this technology more user-friendly and accessible to every developer and every company.
The possibilities of connected environments
Imagine taking advantage of a complex environment and harnessing the power of technology to create immersive experiences and reach new heights of business previously unimaginable. The possibilities are endless: a retail store where the shopping experience is optimized in real time and the shelves are always in stock. A supply chain that tracks and reduces CO2 emissions. A process production line that adapts to fluctuations in natural ingredients and automatically detects and compensates for operational bottlenecks. A city map that simulates different growth proposals to ensure that the energy sources are used optimally.
This is happening today. Customers such as Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev, Paris Saclay, ICA, Total and Brookfield Properties are already implementing solutions that bring these scenarios to life. The most important aspect of this is that by creating data-bound, live digital replicas of physical environments, we can apply modern software techniques – analysis, simulation, autonomous control, and interactions – in mixed reality to achieve previously impossible benefits.
This shift represents a convergence of the physical and digital worlds. When these spaces come together, they create a new world full of possibilities and transformative solutions that will change everything. We consider these solutions to be metaverse apps.
Form the foundation with digital twins
Metaverse apps are the pinnacle of the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge that work together harmoniously – digital twins are based on them. With digital twins, you can create large digital models of any physical or logical element, from simple assets or products to complex environments. These environments can be power distribution grids, warehouses, or factories – anything that matters to you. Once modeled, it can be brought to life using bi-directional IoT connections and synchronized with the physical world. This initial bond of physical and digital is fundamental to enabling Metaverse apps.
Once this foundation is in place, you can begin applying software techniques to your model. From there, the world essentially becomes your digital canvas. You can run analytics to gain insight into how changes are being made to your environment. You can predict future environmental conditions – anticipate when equipment needs servicing or anticipate occupancy needs before they occur.
The next set of Advantages result from simulationswho have favourited copies of the digital twin and then run simulations on them. These simulations can evaluate what-if questions or use the power of the cloud to extract insights and tweaks from extremely complex environments – something that cannot be achieved by simply monitoring the physical environment alone. Once these simulations are complete, you can apply insights from the simulated copy to the real digital twin and sync those changes back to the physical environment to realize the benefits. You can even create and apply autonomous systems digital twin to automate routine tasks and expand them with systems that learn and improve over time.
After all, one of the most powerful things you can do is interact with the digital model overlaid on the physical environment in mixed reality. This digital copy gives you extensive metadata and insight into everything you do in the physical world. You can also interact in pure virtual space, even from a distance with colleagues and experts around the world.
The Microsoft Cloud brings all of this together
If you look at the various functions required for this new class of application, the Microsoft cloud has services for each function. In fact, as a company, we are uniquely positioned to bring this entire stack together. Our bold goal is to make this stack more connected and seamless over time, so you can easily move up and down the layers that enable metaverse applications.
Azure Digital Twins can model any asset, system or the entire environment and keep the digital twins live and up to date with Azure IoT. Azure Synapse Analytics tracks the history of digital twins and finds insights to predict future states. With our AI and machine learning platform, you can create autonomous systems that are continually learning and improving. Enable presence and sharing from anywhere – on any device – using Microsoft Mesh. Experience the best of mixed reality devices and Microsoft Mesh with Microsoft HoloLens 2, one of the most comprehensive and ergonomic mixed reality devices. With the Microsoft Power Platform, every employee can extend and interact with digital twin data using low-code-no-code solutions. Each layer of this technology stack is incredibly powerful on its own, but together they use one of the most transformative computer waves we have ever seen.
Create the brewery of the future with Anheuser-Busch InBev
This technology stack used for Metaverse applications is available today and is already enabling groundbreaking transformations in various industries: process manufacturing, retail, supply chain, energy and healthcare. AB InBev is a great example of this. With more than 200 breweries and over 150,000 employees worldwide, AB InBev is the largest brewer in the world. They are committed to the highest standards of quality and consistency, they are experts in process manufacturing, and they use this stack to change their operations dramatically.
AB InBev used Azure Digital Twins Build a comprehensive digital model of your breweries and supply chain. The digital model, synchronized with their physical environment, is live and up-to-date – it reflects the complex relationships between the natural ingredients and the brewing process – and allows AB InBev’s brewmasters to adapt to the active conditions. This also gives frontline operators an integrated view of the quality and traceability information and helps them maintain the uptime of the machinery required during the packaging process.
AB InBev also uses in-depth reinforcement learning to help packaging line operators identify and automatically compensate for bottlenecks in complex operations. They even use the mixed reality via their digital twin for remote assistance, which promotes effective knowledge sharing between different regions. The control and optimization that this technology stack provides enables AB InBev to ensure the perfect sip is delivered to customers every time while achieving their bold business and sustainability goals.
Power supply for end-to-end solutions
This stack is the foundation for end-to-end solutions ranging from first-party to third-party solutions delivered through our global partner ecosystem. Some of the solutions developed by Microsoft include:
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connected Store: Uses real-time observational data to improve business operations.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 manuals: Provides an overlay of step-by-step holographic instructions on top of physical reality to help frontline workers do better and work more accurately.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assistant: Allows employees to connect with an expert from anywhere on the planet in mixed reality with a shared view of the physical environment. This enables extensive knowledge exchange and training between organizations that break down physical barriers.
- Associated sales force: Automatically calls a repair technician when a machine needs help and helps businesses coordinate maintenance.
Start developing your Metaverse apps today
The implementation of this technology stack is not a monolithic or linear process. There is no set starting point for building Metaverse applications, and each level can be advanced gradually. While we lean on the transformation that Metaverse enables, we have the bold ambition to make these experiences easier to build and leverage – so that every company, anywhere in the world, can reach their full potential. We can’t wait to see what you build with us.
Check out our Microsoft Build session for a deeper dive into our metaverse vision, the technology stack that brings it to life, and how companies around the world are putting it into action. Creating digital twins, mixed reality and metaverse apps.