philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


This German town replicated itself in VR to keep its tourism alive

Herrenberg-647x647Tourists may soon be able to explore the picturesque cross-timbered houses and historic churches of Herrenberg via virtual reality (VR), thanks to a digital twin developed with the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS).

Building a digital twin

HLRS developed Herrenberg’s digital twin together with the Fraunhofer Institute, the University of Stuttgart, and Kommunikationsbüro Ulmer, starting with a concept called ‘space syntax’.

Dr. Fabian Dembski of HLRS said: “Just as the human skeleton provides a scaffolding for all of the other systems and functions of the human body, space syntax produces a 2D outline of physical grids in a city, offering a framework for performing spatial analysis, such as predicting the likely paths that car or pedestrian traffic might take to move from one point to another.”

We shouldn’t overestimate the technology, though, he noted. “Cities are not machines,” he commented. “A digital twin can be a great help in reducing complexity for cities, assessing measures at an early stage, and explaining interrelationships. But there are many aspects that are deeply human and cannot be reproduced in digital copies, such as culture, interpersonal relationships, joy, and happiness. A digital twin is a tool, not a solution.”

He added: “I also think it is important for cities to retain control over data and models,” urging co-operation between science, city administrations, businesses, and citizens.

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