This week, Siemens CEO Roland Busch delivered a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that outlined breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and immersive engineering. These technologies, delivered via Siemens Xcelerator, a digital platform that connects a portfolio of Siemens hardware and software with an ecosystem of partners, set the stage for the ability to easily combine physical and digital worlds in an industrial metaverse.
In his keynote, Busch discussed the importance of the digital twin as an essential building block to accelerate innovation in products, factories, power grids, and even complete cities.
“In the industrial metaverse, the interaction will be so immersive, so interactive, so lifelike that we will hardly be able to detect whether we are manipulating a physical object or a digital twin of one,” Busch said in his keynote. “We can do it without traditional bounds of time, so when something goes wrong we can go back to the moment the problem first appeared and fix it, or ask an AI copilot to do it for us.”
To that end, late last year, Siemens and Microsoft introduced the Siemens Industrial Copilot, a generative AI-powered assistant designed to enhance human-machine collaboration as a way to boost productivity in manufacturing. Industrial Copilot allows users to rapidly generate, optimize, and debug complex automation code. It also uses natural language to assist maintenance operators with detailed repair instructions, or engineers with quick access to simulation tools.
Leaning on low-code
Building on this use of AI, Busch announced a deeper partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to make it easier for businesses of all sizes to build and scale generative AI applications. Siemens is integrating Amazon Bedrock—a service that offers a choice of AI models via a single API—with Mendix, a low-code application development platform that is part of the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio.
“Using a low code platform like Mendix, anyone can create computer code. No need to spend years learning the programming language, just drag and drop the elements you need,” Busch said, noting that the Mendix platform makes generative AI accessible to everyone. “Pick a generative AI model and add it to your applications with just a few clicks.”
In general, this signals a massive change in how people will interact with data, machines, and each other, said Matt Wood, AWS’s vice president of technology, who joined Busch on stage.
“Software developers, at one point, had to have deep knowledge of machine learning and data science,” Wood said. “Today, with Mendix, you can just connect to multiple Amazon Web Service machine learning models, drop them into the application and start reinventing the customer experience, reinventing your products, and reinventing your processes.”
This also democratizes programming capabilities to include everyday users. “The programming language of the next decade will not be the traditional way we’ve been writing code, it’s just going to be natural language. Describe what it is you want the system to do and it will interpret it automatically,” Wood said.
More immersive experiences
In a separate announcement, Siemens announced a new partnership with Sony Corp. to create an immersive engineering experience that is the next generation of industrial design in manufacturing.
Sony’s hardware—a spatial content creation system— features the XR head-mounted display with high-quality 4K OLED microdisplays and controllers for intuitive interaction with 3D objects. This will be integrated with Siemens engineering software. This transports the user into an industrial metaverse where accurate engineering data is represented for seamless collaboration with colleagues around the world for a borderless immersive workspace.
The product, called Siemens’ NX Immersive Designer, is expected to be available later this year.