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10 March 2022
Digital twins are interesting – but will people use them?
From the domain of advanced industry and engineering comes the digital twin, a virtual rendering of a real-world item that allows its users to monitor performance and spot problems; now, that idea is gaining traction among consumer brands looking to the future.
Why it matters
The whole product lifecycle matters increasingly to brands. Consumers, investors, and regulators are increasingly concerned about product provenance and, with resale markets growing, second- and third-hand buyers and sellers would benefit from a digital ID or twin of the product.
Much of the hype has surrounded blockchains and the role these will play. However, these tend to be cumbersome, complex, slow, and simply too much for most brands who are seeking to keep a relationship going. For any of this to work, it has to be easy to use and brands should focus on making usable, useful twins.
Breitling and Hublot, both watchmakers, are deploying blockchain-based digital passports and electronic warranties, respectively.
The big issue
As ever, the trouble is standards. Some are using public blockchains to associate a digital asset (otherwise known as an NFT) with a physical asset. Others use private blockchains, or simply a digital ID platform.
For these to be useful, they need to be easy to use and be able to work across brands. Given that blockchains are expensive to run, unless a compelling use case and set of benefits emerges for consumers, it’s unlikely that investment will continue.