Late September saw the start of the Expo 2020 world exposition in Dubai, which hosts the Baden-Württemberg-Haus on its site. The building was opened on October 3 in a ceremony attended by Baden-Württemberg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut. It is a platform for businesses and educational and research institutions, and offers many opportunities for its partners to present themselves and their achievements to a broad international audience. To make this vibrant site for experiences, innovation and information available to those outside Dubai too, the “Building Culture Innovation” team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO has developed a digital twin. The research team created the digital 3D model of the building, including media content, by combining the existing planning data from the general contractor with data from the technical and exposition plan as well as the partners’ contributions. The digital twin can be visualized through an interactive real-time application, allowing users to walk freely around every floor and through every area of the BW-Haus from home, as well as to interact directly with the exhibits. It provides interested visitors with access to the exposition and its highlights from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. The contents and topics inside will be preserved for the future and can continue to be experienced even after the world exposition has ended. Prof. Wilhelm Bauer, Institute Director of Fraunhofer IAO, says: “The transformation into a hybrid world between the real and the virtual is an opportunity to completely rethink tomorrow’s worlds of work, experiences and culture — to merge those worlds together. We want to reflect this area of research in the pavilion and create new applications for virtual and even augmented reality.”
A new use case for digital twinning: a virtual and interactive exposition
Digital twinning technology has been tested and implemented at Fraunhofer IAO in various different contexts, such as the preventive maintenance of production systems, integrated and sustainable urban planning or virtual lab tours. As part of the “Future Museum” research project, the institute has also taken survey data from citizens and elevated it, turning it into the museum experience of the future. With the creation of the digital BW-Haus, Günter Wenzel’s research team has now taken this knowledge and, for the first time, developed a virtual exposition experience using original 3D building and exposition data. Along with the live feeds from the pavilion in Dubai, individual company presences are also integrated into the virtual building, for example in the form of interactive exhibits or digital contact points. Interested visitors can access the digital twin through the BW-Haus website and navigate freely through the entire exposition. For example, from anywhere in the world, visitors can make a journey of discovery through the Black Forest, experience the “Source of Innovations” or discover “Vision Lab Baden-Württemberg” through virtual reality. It is even possible to walk through the digital BW-Haus at a scale of 1:1 from the “Immersive Participation Lab” at Fraunhofer IAO in Stuttgart.
Easy access to communication and innovation
“The fact that, in a group of more than 190 nations, we are the only region to be represented with our own pavilion at the Expo is an amazing opportunity and a milestone for our federal state’s global presence,” said the minister. The exposition includes numerous contributions from more than 120 content partners in the fields of science, industry, education, culture and politics. Over 40 projects and innovations on global future issues in the areas of quantum technology, revolutionary medicine, augmented reality, living spaces of tomorrow, visionary building, Beyond Industry 4.0, mobility in 3D, climate-neutral energy, sustainability and artificial intelligence were presented at the interactive media stations in the pavilion. “The diverse program over the coming months, with participants from all over the world, offers an amazing opportunity for Baden-Württemberg and its businesses to establish international networks. These networks are enormously important, particularly for our export-oriented economy. The culture scene and tourism in the federal state will benefit from the project too,” says Hoffmeister-Kraut. The digital twin enables access to information and communication even across boundaries of location and time.