PTC demonstrated its Internet of Things ‘digital twin’ concept using a mountain bike fitted with a Raspberry Pi and a variety of sensors at its LiveWorx customer conference this week.
The company took a high-end, carbon-framed Santa Cruz downhill racer, which was designed in PTC CAD software, and added a sensor harness wired through a Raspberry Pi, the miniature computer developed in the UK to stimulate children’s interest in engineering and technology.
Sensors measure variables such as wheel speed, cadence of the pedals, compression of the suspension, steering angle and such like. This data was then fed from the sensors in to the bike’s ‘digital twin’ and virtual model of the bike that is ‘born’ with the physical product to experience everything its twin experiences.
The digital twin looks like an avatar of the real bike, but also allows some basic analysis of how the bike is being ridden and how it performs, so technicians and engineers can see what’s going on without being next to it.
This data, delivered back to the digital world from the physical, could help technicians to provide more efficient service and engineers to improve the design.
PTC emphasised that the bike example is merely a technology demonstrator, but suggested a similar approach could be used with a factory, space station or nanomachine, for example.
When the manufacturer’s maintenance or service staff can be with the physical bike, augmented reality techniques can overlay service instructions and performance data when they view the physical product through the lens of a tablet or smartphone (as pictured above). Again, PTC said this approach could be used to monitor a generator or an aircraft, for example.