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Digital Innovation People & Purpose

I Built a Digital Twin of My Home in Lockdown

I Built a Digital Twin of My Home in Lockdown

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James Litjens

James Litjens

Associate Director of Emerging Technologies Arq Group. james.litjens@arq.group

I Built a Digital Twin of My Home in Lockdown

I'll Show You How...

Hi, I’m James. I live in Melbourne, Australia and we’re currently under stage 4 lockdown. It means curfew restrictions limit my movements and the majority of my time is enjoyed at home. On the plus side: life under lockdown means zero time lost in commuting to work. Lockdown has created new efficiencies, giving me back time I’ve never had before, or thought was possible. Now I have time for other things, and this got me thinking.

I work for an Australian tech company (ARQ Group) as Associate Director of Emerging Technologies. It’s an awesome job, given I’m paid to research and anticipate what’s coming around the corner in tech. The Arq Group Emerging Technology practice sits between cutting-edge innovation and mainstream technologies. I’m tasked with identifying and adopting technologies that progress into the growth stage. Think bleeding edge innovation way out on the fringes, followed by cutting edge technology, that evolves into the mainstream growth stage. This is where the technology has been validated and deemed commercially viable.

 

And while I’m neck-deep into cool tech like AI, machine learning, augmented reality, the internet of things and chatbots (to name a few), there’s a new buzzword in tech that’s gaining the limelight…

“Digital Twins”

Remember the name, for you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more of it.

What is a Digital Twin?

As the name implies, it’s a digital replica, a virtual model of a physical (real-world) thing. That “thing” can be a process, product or service; be it a building, a vehicle, a train line network, or an entire city.

The term was originally coined by Dr. Michael Grieves (University of Michigan) in 2002 and NASA was one of the first to use digital twins in space exploration missions. Maintaining and repairing systems in space when you’re on Earth was the first use of the technology by NASA. Digital twins was how NASA rescued the Apollo 13 mission.

Today digital twins are considered the next big thing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the development of new products, processes and the optimisation of existing.

Digital Twins: How Does It Work?

Digital twins connect the real and virtual world by collecting real-time data from installed sensors. The collected data is stored in the cloud and simulated in a virtual copy of the asset. Information from the simulation is then applied to the real asset.

The integration of data in real and virtual representations helps optimise performance of real assets.

Remember the countless times you’ve seen entire city office floors illuminated at 1am?

With a digital twin, lights can be programmed when not in use and ambient temperatures regulated for optimal comfort and cost. But it’s not only cost-savings…

Digital twins technology enables the manufacturing industry to simulate machinery (yet built), by replicating real-world physics (and wear and tear) to determine which parts would likely fail first, and when. This opens-up a world of preventative maintenance intelligence helping avoid costly downtime for the mining industry.

Remote monitoring is a big advantage made possible with digital twin technology. It allows accurate, real time monitoring, reducing the need for travel and increasing safety. Consider use cases like mining sites: underground or high elevations requiring safety equipment, telecommunication and utility companies.

Digital twins are hot, and they are only getting hotter…

In this mini-series of emerging technology trends, we’ll be covering:

  • Digital twins in real world examples. Practical applications and case studies. 
  • How you can build your own digital twin for your business for less than $50K AUD. 
  • ARQ’s four phase approach to implementing Digital Twins, improving performance and efficiency at every stage of the value chain.

Digital Twins: In Lockdown

Back to my story under lockdown…

Introducing my digital twin one bedroom apartment in Melbourne.

If you’ve ever played The Sims computer game, it looks and feels similar – but so much more. I recorded a video walkthrough you can watch to see the interactivity and functionality live. It’s next-gen stuff that brings The Sims world right into your living room.

In this video you’ll discover:

  • How I built a digital twin in 6 weeks. 
  • What I needed to build a digital twin.
  • How to save running costs. 
  • Which machine consumes how much power and when. 
  • How to use lights to notify family I’m on a video conference call. 
  • How I know exactly when the plants need watering. 
  • How the weather forecast automatically prevents over-watering the garden. 
  • How the home knows when we’re cooking and adjusts ambient temperatures. 
  • How I’ll never leave wet clothes in the washing machine again.

Digital Twins: What's Next?

In the next series we’ll delve into real-world examples and case studies on how digital twins help enterprise and government with city planning, managing airport traffic, to emergency management and underground mining.

I welcome your comments or questions below. If you found value in this post, please share within your network. Likes are also appreciated – thank you.

At the end of this mini-series I’ll be hosting a live webinar on digital twins and welcome your participation. Reserve your spot below.

James Litjens is the Associate Director of Emerging Technologies at ARQ Group. When James isn't leveraging tech for clients or delving into what's hot, he's building his own mobile apps, competing in triathlons and playing the drums in his apartment (at 1 am). Ever-so-considerate, James wears headphones when playing his electric drums. James' real drum kit is stored in a secret location with no neighbours. You can reach James at: james.litjens@arq.group

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Announcements Design Experience Innovation

Good Design Awards 2020 Winners

Good Design Awards 2020 Winners

Congratulations to NSW Rural Fire Services and First State Super – proud winners of Australia’s peak international design awards – the highest honour for design and innovation in the country: Good Design Award®.

Built by ARQ, NSW Rural Fire Services Fires Near Me app and First State Super’s mobile app take home the coveted Good Design Awards in the categories: 

1. Social Impact
NSW Rural Fire Service Fires Near Me app received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade in the Social Impact category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation. Real-time fire tracking with live alerts down to the smallest active ember. Digital solutions saving homes and lives. ARQ Group’s Fires Near Me app built for NSW Rural Fire Services provides Aussies a navigational beacon of digital light amidst the darkness of smoke from the raging infernos in one of Australia’s worst natural disasters.

2. Digital Design
First State Super’s app for members received the Good Design Award Winner Accolade in the Digital Design category for recognition of outstanding design and innovation in the superannuation industry. A first-of-its-kind superannuation app engineered backwards. An app built by members, for members. Traditional design is typically driven by business needs first and characteristically features heavy.

But doing normal things achieves normal results. So we turned the approach upside down. We threw away the rule book and started from scratch. Months invested interviewing the people that matter: members. We asked them what they want. We studied their digital lifestyles and prioritised how they chose to interact with their superannuation fund. Customer-centricity from the bottom-up – on their terms. The results shaped the design process – and for our troubles – the app has won several design awards for a simple, practical and intuitive customer experience including ‘Gold in Digital – New Service or Application’ at the Sydney Design Awards.

Good Design Australia is one of the oldest and most prestigious international design awards in the world, promoting excellence in design and innovation since 1958.

The competition was fierce. We competed against 835 design projects judged across 11 specific design disciplines; spanning 28 categories. Meticulously scrutinised by more than 55 Good Design Award® Jurors, evaluating entries according to a strict set of design criteria covering ‘good design’, ‘design innovation’ and ‘design impact’. To win, our tech solution needed to demonstrate excellence in good design and convince the Jury our innovation is worthy of recognition.

 

The Good Design Award® Jury praised NSW Rural Fire Service Fires Near Me app, commenting:

“A very thoughtful and technologically appropriate solution to the real and ever present danger of bushfires in Australia. The positive benefits of the app are clearly evident and presents a highly functional solution to the problem of communicating the location and movement of fires quickly.”

For our winning digital design for First State Super’s members app, the Jury said: 

“This is a solid app out there making a difference. Great attention paid to those rare-but-significant moments in the relationship between a person and their superannuation. Beautifully executed, well thought through and extremely useful. Nicely resolved visuals, well-executed visual hierarchy of information and typography. The jury was impressed with comprehensive co-design process. This entry is great reflection of how Superannuation is a category where good design can really make an important difference to the customer outcome.” 

Dr. Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia said: 

“Australia’s Good Design Award is more than a symbol of design excellence – it represents the hard work and dedication towards an innovative outcome that will ultimately make our lives better. These projects showcase the shear brilliance of design and the potential it has to improve our world.” 

 

First State Super

Humble When You’re Hot – The Real Heroes
And while the awards, accolades and the 571 technical certifications we’ve amassed are nice to have – it’s never about us. The real heroes (and true winners) are our customers who enhance the lives of their customers through innovations in technology, making life easier and convenient. 
We delight in the awards, as they serve as confirmation of our consistent ability to deliver an industry-vetted calibre of expertise. It’s independent affirmation of our award-worthy excellence for the most important project in the world: yours.
Choose The Right Partner For Capabilities Unlimited
If you’d like to conquer cloud, digital and data and need a consultancy specialist with award-winning expertise across the entire gamut, we should talk. For 25 years ARQ Group has been the leader in digital technology with a proud history of pioneering-firsts: the first company to bring the internet to Australia and the first to register domain names. ARQ created the first websites and developed the first apps. Imagine what we could do for you? 
View these full case studies below
Case Studies

Aware Super App

Aware Super App Manage your super anytime, anywhere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9CnKlZ4KR8 “This is a solid app that is out there making a difference. Great attention paid to

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Announcements Digital

ARQ Group joins forces with NZ’s Enlighten Designs for new trans-Tasman digital partnership

ARQ Group joins forces with NZ’s Enlighten Designs for new trans-Tasman digital partnership

Mark Addy

Mark Addy

ARQ Group joins forces with NZ’s Enlighten Designs for new trans-Tasman digital partnership

Australia’s leading digital provider, ARQ Group signs a strategic partnership with Enlighten Designs, New Zealand’s leading software development and website design company as part of a new trans-Tasman alliance.  

The new partnership diversifies Enlighten’s data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence offering, thanks to ARQ’s in-house capabilities. In turn, Enlighten provides ARQ access to advanced web capabilities and its award-winning customised dashboard, uplifting ARQ Group’s customer experience.

Both ARQ and Enlighten have been collaborating for the past 12 months on innovative web and dashboarding solutions to improve accessibility to emerging digital technologies.

“Our strategic partnership presents an opportunity for both businesses to showcase our agile capabilities, despite the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

“By unifying our expertise, we’re continuing the delivery of meaningful impact for our clients, locally and abroad. ARQ’s market leadership in data, digital, AI, and cloud-based solutions means that our customers have access to an expanded range of digital services.

“We’re 100% onshore, proudly Australian owned and operated. ARQ’s the name behind many of Australia’s most loved household brands and government projects. We’re passionate about leveraging technology to solve organisational challenges – both public and private – no matter how complex.” 

– ARQ Group CEO, Tristan Sternson

Sternson also has a warning for companies reluctant to embrace digital solutions to meet a rapidly changing operating environment.

“The world has changed forever. Companies failing to move ahead with their digital transformation projects as priority, will be left behind. In the new COVID climate, if you’re not part of the future, you’ll be left in the past. History has repetitively shown us countless examples of major companies at risk of collapse due to change-anxiety and the deadly head-in-the-sand syndrome, all the while their competitors are busy embracing change.

“We have built our expertise over 25 years, which is why the majority of the ASX’s top-20 companies and governments across Australia trust ARQ to develop their digital solutions. We’ve hired an additional 80 consultants in the past 3 months, and thanks to this partnership, ARQ Group continues to grow from strength to strength.”

– ARQ Group CEO, Tristan Sternson

Founder and CEO of Enlighten, Damon Kelly, says the strategic partnership will give the company access to new expertise, vital to growth.   

“We’re genuinely excited about our partnership with ARQ Group and the opportunity to expand into the Australian market. Our new alliance advances our technology offering for New Zealand customers and stakeholders. ARQ’s strong relationships, 25-year heritage, and proven capabilities across government agencies and large corporates is invaluable, enabling Enlighten to expand our technology solutions on a global scale.

“Our organisations are well-placed to take advantage of the post COVID-19 trans-Tasman bubble as soon as it’s established. In the meantime, our collaboration is a great example of how successful remote working arrangements are achieved through technology. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the ARQ Group – and in collaboration – utilising the technology that changes the world for the better.”

– Enlighten Designs Founder and CEO Damon Kelly

Microsoft Australia’s chief partner officer, Rachel Bondi adds:

“Enlighten and ARQ Group are both leaders in their field with proven capabilities in their respective countries, delivering impactful tech solutions for their clients by transforming customer experiences.

“As trusted Microsoft partners, this partnership seemed like a natural fit. Not only are Enlighten and ARQ Group aligned on core competencies, but their collective performances will no doubt be elevated to new heights. We’re proud to back both organisations and I look forward to seeing the exceptional work they deliver.” 

– Microsoft Australia’s Chief Partner Officer Rachel Bondi

For 25 years ARQ Group has been the leader in digital technology and a proud history of pioneering-firsts. The first company to bring the internet to Australia and register the first domain names. ARQ created the first websites and developed the first apps. Today ARQ Group is a market leader in data, digital, AI, and cloud-based solutions.

ARQ Group is Australia’s first Premier Consulting Partner awarded the status of Amazon Web Services Managed Service Provider (AWS MSP). Also awarded AWS’s first Australian Data Competency Partner and a preferred partner for Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Apple Consultant Network.

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Announcements Design Experience Digital Events

Arq Group and First State Super Win Gold at Sydney Design Awards for Mobile Super App

Arq Group and First State Super Win Gold at Sydney Design Awards for Mobile Super App

Arq Group

Arq Group

Arq Group and First State Super Win Gold at Sydney Design Awards for Mobile Super App

Arq Group and First State Super have been awarded Gold in the Digital – New Service or Application category at the Sydney Design Awards

Arq Group

Arq Group and First State Super, one of the largest superannuation funds in Australia, have been awarded Gold in the Digital – New Service or Application category at the Sydney Design Awards for their partnership in developing First State Super’s Mobile App.

The awards, now in its eighth iteration, recognise those at the apex of the Sydney design market with a focus on solutions that elevate the needs of the customer and achieve the intended strategic goals of the project.

The development of a new app is part of First State Super’s vision for its mobile channel; to deliver a simple, easy and frictionless digital experience. Arq Group and First State Super’s partnership was founded on the desire to design and deliver meaningful connections through mobile experiences. It was also intended for First State Super to achieve its goal of having an app that visually assists members to understand their financial position and interactively plan for their future.

Shriman Kalyan, Design Director at Arq Group, said, “To deliver a memorable experience for First State Super members, we knew we had to combine the research insights from members, non-members, and business teams to define the design principles that would have a transformative impact.

“The data and insights we derived profoundly influenced our approach to the mobile channel and allowed us, as a team, to make the right product and usability decisions. This process emphasised the importance of understanding and interrogating user behaviour at the beginning and throughout the entire design process.

“Being recognised with a Gold at the Sydney Design Awards is a testament to the innovative work Arq Group is consistently delivering to clients and the businesses challenges we help them to solve.”

The design, between Arq Group, First State Super and its members, put customer centricity, applicability and usability at the heart of the project’s guiding principles. The development emphasised convenience, control, and transparency in order to achieve the optimal iOS and Android applications. Since its launch consumer response has been positive, with 40% of member logins coming via the app and the app receiving a rating of 4.8 in the App Store (as of 24 June 2019).

Ahmad Racheha, Head of Digital at First State Super said, “We engaged the Arq Group to work with us to deliver a rigorous member insights-driven design. We wanted to do more than match what is currently in market. This approach helped us understand our members’ knowledge, behaviours and attitudes toward their superannuation as well as what they needed from an app. This was critical in determining and prioritising the minimum set of features to satisfy our member needs and meet their expectations.

“The initial research showed that 50 per cent of First State Super members check their accounts only a few times a year. This challenged us to create an application that was engaging and interactive, while also serving its core purpose of putting our members in control of really understanding and helping grow their super for a better retirement”

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Announcements Digital Virtual Reality

Arq Group powers personalisation for businesses across Australia with launch of virtual concierge

Arq Group powers personalisation for businesses across Australia with launch of virtual concierge

Mark Addy

Mark Addy

Arq Group powers personalisation for businesses across Australia with launch of virtual concierge

Arq Group, a leading Australian digital solutions provider, is transforming the modern office with the introduction of the virtual concierge. Designed to give Australian businesses the opportunity to deliver the ultimate personalised experience, the digital receptionist utilises both artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver the next generation of customer experience.

Arq Group

Offering conversational and contextual assistance through touch free interaction, customers can approach and talk to the digital receptionist to notify staff of arrival, order their favourite coffee and even complete on-site safety inductions if relevant. The bespoke product can be designed specifically to match the tone, style and image of the brand across their multiple office sites and check-in points.

“Seamless touchpoints that look and feel the same no matter where you engage with a brand are hard to come by. Creating an office space without a reception, that is still welcoming and representative of the organisation, creates a holistic experience that many businesses are still struggling to tap-into,” says Daniel Johnson, Sales Director Southern Region at Arq Group.

The machine learning technology evolves after every customer contact – remembering the interaction, requests and requirements so that the individual has an easy and smooth experience the next time.

According to Mr Johnson, implementing this type of technology enables businesses to deliver innovative experiences that their competitors may not yet be offering, while maximising employee value.

“The receptionless office enables businesses to free up their human resources to handle more complex tasks while still giving customers a consistently positive experience at every office touchpoint. It’s not about replacing staff, it’s about freeing them up to add value to other parts of the business,” continues Mr Johnson.

Businesses in the retail, tourism and travel, HR and resources industries are most likely to benefit immediately from the virtual concierge.

Arq Group itself is using the virtual concierge across it’s three office locations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane.

“We know the importance of a positive brand experience and it made total sense for us to deploy it and see the next-gen in customer experience come to life across our own offices,” concludes Mr Johnson.

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Digital Events Hackathon Innovation

Arq’s ‘Netflix for careers’ solution voted people’s choice

Arq’s ‘Netflix for careers’ solution voted people’s choice

Arq

Arq

Arq wrote this

Arq’s ‘Netflix for careers’ solution voted people’s choice

Arq’s passion for customer-centricity and personalisation were channelled to create a prototype to help people transitioning to a new career at a recent hackathon. And we were thrilled when the prototype, featuring emerging technologies, got the thumbs up from our peers.

Arq’s ‘Launchpad for your career’ prototype takes advantage of data-driven design and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, to personalise content and tailor information unique to each user’s career journey. It learns as the user browses, optimises the user’s activity and surfaces the most relevant content in real-time. It’s similar to the way Netflix uses technology to learn what your favourite TV show or movie genre is.

Arq was one of nine teams invited to participate in a hackathon organised by the National Careers Institute (NCI) in Sydney recently with the aim of creating a digital platform to help guide every day Aussies on their future career path. Whether they’re school leavers, people transitioning into the workforce or a new career, the digital platform would serve as the source of truth for people looking for practical career advice.

Innovation and Project Lead, Oliver Maruda, said the team was excited about the prototype being voted people’s choice by the other hackathon participants.

“We are grateful to the NCI for giving us the opportunity to participate in this event. Seeing how our competitors solve challenges was a great experience. It kept us sharp. Given the calibre of experts in design thinking in the room, the fact our solution was voted people’s choice was humbling. Our entire team are super proud of our efforts.” said Oliver.

“We channelled our passion for customers and personalisation into the prototype. We were adamant that the solution had to be easy for people to use. Whether it’s a 60-year-old worker transitioning from retail into a new job in tourism, a Generation Z considering university or a vocational course, or a student wanting to navigate internships– the technology needs to work for them and be personalised to their unique journey.”

Congratulations and #Kudos to the team, Oliver Maruda (Team Lead), Nick Williams (Product Owner), Nam Dang (Senior UI/UX Designers), Alex Fracazo (Senior UI/UX Designers), Francois Hensley (Solution Architect) and Mahmudul Alam (Solution Architect).

Arq is looking forward to participating in future industry innovation hackathons.

 

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Case Studies Culture Digital

Shop Ethical!

Shop Ethical!

App Development and Support

Project Background

Get the low-down on the environmental and social record of companies behind common brand names. Shop at the supermarket with a clear conscience!

The most popular digital guide to ethical shopping in Australia, Shop Ethical!, a collaboration between us and the Ethical Consumer Group, has been completely redesigned to provide consumers with the easiest way to make informed purchasing decisions.

Solution

The Shop Ethical! app features the most up to date data from the Ethical Consumer Guide including two new categories, Meat and Toys plus many other additions.

  • Additional Important Issues added
  • Animal Ingredients information by product type
  • Improved company assessment display
  • Improved Industry Alert display

The Outcome

The app features a refined new look and a new feature that allows for for updated data to be downloaded over the air without requiring an app update. The Shop Ethical! app provides consumers instant access to over 3,800 products with related company information and lets them make an informed and ethical decision whenever they shop. By shopping ethically consumers can send a strong message for change and help support the practices that make our world a better place to live in.

The Shop Ethical! app uses the latest data from the Ethical Consumer Guide website (ethical.org.au) and is also available as a book, The Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping. Company ratings are based on information gathered from over 30 sources including the work of organisations such as Greenpeace, Choose Cruelty Free, WWF, Responsible Shopper and Friends of the Earth.

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Announcements Design Experience Digital Government Industry

Workforce empowerment. We like the sound of that

Workforce empowerment. We like the sound of that

Mark Addy

Mark Addy

Workforce empowerment. We like the sound of that

Revolutionising food processing via an app

Arq Group

Safe Food engaged Arq Group to digitise its existing paper reporting system in order to improve the efficiency of reporting. Switching to digital required the app to function in a challenging environment. How transforming is that?

This Award recognises the impact our Safe Food app is having on the food safety regulation industry. It allows quality control officers to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. This ultimately improves food safety for Queensland consumers.

Want to learn more? Check out CRN’s article here.

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