What Is Digital Twin Technology?

Written By: Stacy Thompson
  • 9/30/2021
PTC's digital twin

Any Star Wars buff (or novice, for that matter) must remember the scene where R2-D2 projects a hologram of Princess Lei asking the semi-retired Jedi master Ben Kenobi for assistance: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

Fast forward 30 years into the present and, what was once fiction, has become reality.

PTC's digital twin

Today, the world is being transformed by a convergence of physical and digital technologies, impacting existing products, services, and environments. Enterprises are harnessing the power of 3D printing, the industrial Internet of Things, smart factories/Industry 4.0, and augmented reality to reinvent themselves and gain competitive advantage.

The new frontier of innovation isn’t ahead of us – it’s happening all around us. But, the question is: How are forward-looking organizations unlocking the value created by physical and digital convergence?

Enter the digital twin.

What Is a Digital Twin?

Imagine a world where you could have access to your product after it’s left the factory floor and is in your customers’ hands. You’d have unique view into the ways your customers are using your product – and you’d be able to develop a complete picture of the product’s current and past states.

That’s digital twin technology.

But it’s more than just the digital copy itself. This pairing of the digital and physical worlds allows analysis of data and monitoring of systems to head off problems before they even occur.

By implementing a digital twin, you can enable a unified simulation of the product, facilitating product improvements and enabling virtual prototyping of future products.

How Does Digital Twin Technology Work in Practice?

With the future already here and digital twins being deployed in companies around the world, the question becomes: How does it work in practice?

At PTC, we’re helping manufacturers across industries leverage digital twin to understand how their customers are using their products, helping to improve the design and performance of those products.


Take, for example, T-Systems, one of the world’s leading providers of information and communications technology. With an aging infrastructure, the biggest challenge T-Systems faces on the client side is around digital transformation.

That’s where digital twin comes into play.

The key benefit of digital twin for T-Systems is getting real product insights faster. The above video showcases the model T-Systems worked with PTC to create, illustrating how to effectively design and monitor brake pads in the automotive industry.

The digital twin PTC and T-Systems have created as a result is all about integration. Collecting and visualizing real-world data in ThingWorx. Linking this real-world data to product data in the Windchill PLM system. Providing data to engineers in Creo. Enriching data with augmented reality coming from ThingWorx studio.

The end result?

By leveraging PTC technology, T-Systems can gather real-time data and relay it back to their customers in a meaningful way.

Final Thoughts

The digital technology from Star Wars may have seemed like the stuff of fiction at the time - but it's are far from fiction today.

Enterprises are increasingly harnessing the power of the colliding digital and physical worlds to unlock business value and outperform the competition. Companies may be in different stages of maturity with digital twin, but one thing is clear: The pressure is on.

Related Articles:

Digital Transforms Physical

PTC is uniquely positioned to help companies thrive, navigating today’s challenges, while preparing for what’s next.

  • Augmented Reality
  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • PLM
  • Automotive
  • Digital Transformation
  • Digital Twin

About the Author

Stacy Thompson Stacy Thompson is the Director of Corporate Content Marketing at PTC. She has more than a decade of experience in content, SEO, and social media development, B2B and B2C communications, demand generation campaigns, and analytics/content measurement. She is also a Professor of Content Strategy in Kent State University’s User Experience Design Master’s program.