Open-Source Developer Tools Aim at IoT Digital Twins

Published: January 18, 2024

ScaleOut Software is offering a no-cost digital twin API as part of its hosting platform to ease development for IoT deployments

To deliver no-cost, open-standard development tools for IoT solutions, Seattle-based company ScaleOut Software has released its open-source digital twin application programming interfaces (APIs) and development workbench. The features are part of its ScaleOut’s Digital Twins hosting platform.

The company’s goal is to provide tools allowing developers to build and simulate real-time monitoring solutions. The APIs and workbench enable fast development and testing of digital twin applications before deployment, according to ScaleOut.

To help accelerate the development of digital twin applications, the software company is releasing these components as open source under the Apache 2.0 license.

Managing Volumes of IoT Data

“The rapid evolution of IoT technology has led to the creation of huge numbers of smart devices emitting telemetry with valuable, largely untapped information,” says William Bain, ScaleOut Software’s CEO and founder.

Developers are tasked with building systems that capture and analyze this telemetry in real time, helping users gain situational awareness and more effectively responses to emerging issues. For instance, IoT data can be used to identify, in real time, when sensor measurements indicate potential problems or to create analytics to understand operational trends for equipment used on a manufacturing site.

ScaleOut over the last several years has offered the use of digital twins to track and model millions of IoT devices. Additionally, it  provides real-time analytics and alerting, as well as simulation for planning and decision-making.

In fact, developers already use ScaleOut’s APIs to build digital twin models for deployment on the ScaleOut Digital Twins platform.

Bringing Digital Twins the IoT

The concept of digital twins dates back decades—it was introduced in 2002 for use in manufacturing and product lifecycle management. Over the last two decades, the simulation-based system has expanded to aid in monitoring physical devices, such as industrial robots, for preventive maintenance and tracking physical assets (for example the infrastructure in smart buildings).

However, standardized APIs have not emerged to help developers implement digital twin systems. This led ScaleOut in 2020 to develop what it calls simple, object-oriented APIs for use by developers in building applications that incorporate memory-based digital twins.

Now, the new open-standards workbench released in December 2023 will enable digital twins to track and model large, dynamic systems, and serve as a common software architecture for use on a variety of hosting platforms, Bain says.

The workbench decouples the APIs from a specific execution platform so that developers can focus on exploring use of digital twins for real-time monitoring and simulations.

Beyond Asset Management

With the growing number of IoT sensors and devices being deployed across the world, Bain argues existing streaming analytics architectures are not equipped to make sense of the immense volume of rapidly changing data generated by these devices. The data is no longer strictly coming from stationary assets.

Digital twins offer a powerful tool for addressing this challenge. By running in memory and storing information about each IoT device (or other entity), they can quickly analyze incoming telemetry and identify emerging issues.

For instance, digital twins can analyze telemetry from entry points in a physical (or cyber) security infrastructure and build a picture of evolving threats. An example is simultaneously tracking freight rail cars across the country and alerting engineers to potential mechanical failures before a derailment occurs.

Creating Simulations

Digital twins enable planners to build simulations that evaluate complex interactions and assist in decision-making—such as modeling smart cities with traffic control devices, sound sensors, and intelligent energy management devices, Bain says.

The potential users of ScaleOut’s open-source developers’ tools could be those with existing applications. Their systems may already store incoming data from IoT devices in offline storage, for batch analytics.

The workbench and APIs would allow them to add real-time analytics and alerting. Examples include data from IoT devices tracking vehicle fleets or security, as well as logistics systems and health-device tracking.

From Airlines to Smart Cities

Additionally, designers of large infrastructures, such as airline operations and smart cities, could use the open-source API tools with digital twins to evaluate design decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

“They can benefit from a simulation platform that captures the scale and complexity that their designs create,” says Bain.Memory-based, digital twin simulations offer the simplicity and computing power that they need to tackle this challenge.”

ScaleOut’s open-source APIs enable developers to build their digital twin models in Java or C#. The APIs employ standard, object-oriented design principles to simplify development and to help them avoid the need for specialized or platform-specific techniques.

Developers can download the open source APIs and workbench at no cost and immediately start building digital twin applications. These APIs can serve as the basis for creating digital twins that run on other platforms and provide cross-platform compatibility as well.

Key Takeaways

  • Open-source API and workbench from ScaleOut is being used by developers to build digital twins for IoT solutions.
  • The system is no-cost for those using the ScaleOut developers platform.