Advancements in metaverse technology, Internet of Things (IoT), and low-code platforms are paving the way for major breakthroughs in the management of facility infrastructure — encompassing utilities, manufacturing, and all forms of buildings. This includes the essential systems and services that support the physical and operational aspects of facilities. These technological advancements are enabling organizations to create more realistic and interactive digital models, embed data from sensors, and enhance data analytics to accelerate digitalization. When combined, their impact is multiplied, equipping businesses with the tools they need to quickly create fully immersive digital experiences that are enhancing everything from product development to resource planning to emergency response training.

What’s Driving the Progress

Businesses and facilities management teams have long been interested in creating digital models of their facilities but have faced challenges finding effective tools to do so. Converting 2D drawings into 3D models is time consuming and costly. While advancements such as LiDAR scans have offered some progress, they require expensive equipment and support from specialized engineers to capture, process, and integrate data into the virtual replicas which cannot be easily altered. Even small adjustments to a layout such as the placement of a desk require entirely new scans. Because the average employee can’t alter these models, they can’t easily experiment with new scenarios, preventing them from accessing one of the most valuable capabilities of digital facility infrastructure models.

Another major limitation of these models is that they’re static, meaning teams can’t interact with them the same way they would with the real-world environment. When presented on a flat screen, even the most detailed and realistic 3D renderings do not translate into a fully immerse experience.

Metaverse technology, extended reality, low-code platforms, IoT and other technologies are revolutionizing facility digitalization, enabling companies to create highly immersive, easily manipulable digital facility models in less time and at lower costs.

Platforms like Unity and Unreal Engine, for example, are capable of efficiently rendering rich, interactive virtual environments that replicate real-world facilities with astonishing detail and realism. XR technologies, including VR devices like the Oculus Quest and Microsoft's HoloLens, are merging the digital and physical worlds, providing users with enhanced interactive experiences that are made smoother and more responsive thanks to advancements in 5G technology. Meanwhile, low-code platforms such as Mendix and Microsoft Power Apps are democratizing the development process, enabling non-technical staff to create or modify applications that interact with these digital models, significantly reducing the time and cost associated with traditional software development. At the same time, integrating IoT data transmitted from equipment sensors provides a real-time view of facility operations for more accurate, detailed representations of physical assets.

Together, these capabilities are streamlining the digitalization of facilities, offering unprecedented opportunities for optimization, collaboration, and engagement within virtual spaces. The combination of user-friendly development interfaces and advanced hardware technologies simplifies the process of creating interactive digital twins, empowering teams to effortlessly simulate scenarios and visualize the impact of modifications in real time. Employees with little technical knowledge can be trained to make changes to the digital models and immediately see the effects without the need for extensive rescanning or data collection. This level of interactivity and real-time manipulation provides a dynamic, responsive environment for testing and optimizing different scenarios, driving innovation and efficiency in facility management and operations.

Experiencing Impact and Value in Real Time

To understand just how valuable this can be for a business, consider Wipro’s work with a global energy company. The client wanted to create an immersive digital twin of one of its facilities so it could enhance emergency response training for all employees. Doing so would require accurate renderings of the environment and all its assets, along with metaverse capabilities to simulate specific emergency scenarios in an immersive virtual environment.

With traditional methods, a project like this might take months and involve extensive back and forth with designers and engineers to secure architectural drawings and technical specifications for the various assets. Instead, Wipro used a no-code XR platform to convert 2D drawings and photos of the facility and its assets into reusable digital components that can be easily dragged and dropped into virtual environments. Unlike traditional approaches, which rely on scans that must be completely redone whenever the space is altered, this drag-and-drop functionality enables the client to easily create digital facility twins and move elements around as needed, with minimal training.

The entire digitization process took less than five weeks. Future projects will likely take even less time, depending on how many of the assets needed are already in the digital catalogue.

A Shortcut to Getting Ahead of the Curve                                                             

Low-code platforms, combined with metaverse technologies, AI, and IoT, are making it much easier for developers and non-developers to create dynamic virtual environments that accurately reflect the physical world. These capabilities have applications throughout an enterprise, enabling businesses to better respond to growing pressures related to areas like sustainable operations, regulatory compliance, and hybrid work:

  • Sustainability and Energy Efficiency: Businesses are facing growing pressure to reduce their environmental impact and improve energy efficiency. Dynamic digital twins and real-time scenario planning enable organizations to optimize resource utilization, monitor energy consumption, and implement sustainable practices within their facilities.
  • Hybrid Work and Collaboration: The rise of hybrid work and distributed teams has highlighted the need for virtual collaboration and remote monitoring capabilities. Interactive digital twins and extended reality solutions facilitate remote training, collaboration, and facility management, enabling businesses to adapt to the changing work environment.
  • Regulatory Compliance and Safety: Industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and construction face stringent regulatory requirements related to safety and compliance. Interactive virtual training and real-time scenario planning allow businesses to enhance safety protocols, train employees on compliance measures, and simulate emergency response scenarios to ensure regulatory adherence.
  • Operational Efficiency and Cost Reduction: Businesses are under pressure to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. Dynamic digital twins and real-time data integration enable organizations to identify inefficiencies, optimize processes, and streamline facility management, leading to cost savings and improved operational performance.
  • Customer Experience and Innovation: Industries such as retail and hospitality are focused on enhancing customer experiences and driving innovation. Interactive digital twins and extended reality solutions enable businesses to create immersive and personalized experiences for customers, optimize space utilization, and innovate in their service delivery.

More than just improving the look or efficiency of digital models, upgrades to AI, IoT, 5G, and other technologies are making them more cost-effective and powerful. Together, these technologies are transforming static models into dynamic digital ecosystems capable of meeting the ever-evolving needs of today’s businesses. As these technologies continue to advance and converge, they promise to redefine the boundaries of what is possible in smart facility infrastructure management, setting a new standard for how businesses operate and innovate in an increasingly digital world.

About the Authors

Kim Watson
President & Managing Director, Canada

Based in Ontario, Kim is focused on Wipro’s vision for business growth, localization, brand building, and transformational engagements with clients in key sectors throughout Canada. She is a veteran in the information and communications technology (ICT) field with more than 30 years of experience in various leadership roles, including development, sales, engineering, delivery, software, managed services, and outsourcing. 

Anu Pillai S
Digital Partner, UEG D&C

Anu heads the Center of Excellence at Wipro’s UEG Domain and Consulting group, focusing primarily on engineering, construction, operations and airports industries. He works closely with clients to reimagine customer journeys by bringing together industry processes, design, and forging strategic partnerships and alliances with next-gen technology providers. He has worked with leading organizations globally on consulting, innovation, and business transformation engagements.