Siemens and Microsoft Announce Universal Digital Twin Framework

Siemens and Microsoft are combining their digital twin languages. 

So, what does that mean?

Microsoft’s Digital Twin Definition Language is designed specifically for the tech giant’s Azure platform. 

The W3C Thing Description, which emerged in 2020 as part of the Web of Things, offers a generalized framework that Siemens is already planning to facilitate with future projects.

Microsoft and Siemens just announced they’re blending the two frameworks. They say the universal framework combines the best of both worlds: Microsoft’s detailed approach and the W3C’s flexible, web-oriented language. 

They’re aiming to make it easier for various Internet of Things devices to communicate, increasing accessibility for digital twin technology. 

Thomas Kiessling, chief technology officer at Siemens Smart Infrastructure, called the two languages very similar. He said in a press release that converging them is an “essential move” that will “enable customers to describe the physical world in a way that is agnostic to specific IoT platforms.”

Digital twins are virtual replicas that reflect its physical counterpart in real-time. After early adoption in the aerospace, defense and automotive industries, interest in digital twins is surging across sectors.

The announcement noted that the companies’ customers typically deploy a mix of vendors in their tech stacks. Combining the frameworks avoids locking users into one vendor. Digital transformation leaders frequently cite integrations with rigid systems as a main blocker to their initiatives. 

According to Erich Barsntedt, a Microsoft chief architect, standardizing the Digital Twin Definition Language through a consortium like W3C has been planned from the start. 

“Therefore, merging DTDL with W3C Thing Description, in close partnership with Siemens, is the natural step in our journey to democratize digital twins in the industry,” he said.

Other initiatives Microsoft and Siemens have partnered on include integrating the NX CAD tool with Azure and broadening AI adoption across sectors, including manufacturing, construction, transportation, and healthcare. 

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