The CSIRO’s specialist data and digital arm, Data61, will today launch its Mixed Reality Lab in Melbourne. The lab will allow the creation of “digital twins”, the virtual replicas of real life physical objects and systems used for improved production and innovation.

Data61’s new Melbourne lab uses a system of industrial and consumer optical cameras and sensing equipment to capture detailed data about a physical object and the area around it. Algorithms help convert the data into a digital twin in a matter of minutes, according to Data61. 

A virtual version makes it easier to analyse devices and it is possible to map production across a global supply chain. The technology can also be used on human bodies, for example to improve athletic performance.

Digital twins are especially useful and popular for Internet of Things devices, according to Gartner, which says the technology entered the mainstream this year. Juniper claims digital twins will be a $13 billion industry by 2023

The Melbourne lab takes advantage of the CSIRO’s expertise across machine learning, computer vision, computational modelling, IoT, and the agency’s patented Stereo Depth Fusion technology for depth estimation.

The lab is open to many industries, but Data61 says manufacturing is a particular focus. The technology is a “game changer”, according to Matt Bolger, a senior software engineer at Data61.

Matt Bolger, a senior software engineer at Data61 using augmented reality in the new lab. Supplied.

“By comparing a digital twin of a manufactured object against the original design, we can quickly, accurately and cost-effectively identify defects and map entire manufacturing processes across a global supply chain,” Bolger said.  

“Defective components can be identified in real-time and corrected, while downstream processes can be adjusted to minimise the impact of delays.”

Dr Simon Barry, Analytics and Decision Sciences research director at CSIRO’s Data61 said the Mixed Reality Lab is an example of Industry 4.0 in action.

“This is the future of smart factories, where the digitalisation of the full value chain will enable real-time situational awareness and lead to better decision making and planning,” Barry said.

“Digital twins of manufacturing processes, human movement and even our cities and infrastructure will significantly improve productivity, reduce costs and transform all manner of industries.” 

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