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Startups

3i's AI technology creates digital twins using smartphone photos

3i aims to hold a 10% market share in the global facility management market by 2025

By Aug 24, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

3i CEO Ken Kim explains the company's digital twin solutions.
3i CEO Ken Kim explains the company's digital twin solutions.

Innovating industrial plants is often a difficult decision-making process for companies because changing a single piece of equipment requires a thorough on-site inspection from a team of experts in electricity, network, pipes, machines and structure. 

But South Korea-based startup 3i Inc. helps remove such roadblocks through its digital twin solutions. The company operates Beamo, an artificial intelligence technology-based service that creates a 3D digital twin for companies.

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or a service that shares real-time data with its counterpart. 

“Maps and street views were used to digitalize outdoor space, which wasn't the case for indoor space. But now an easy and speedy creation of a digital twin for indoor space is achievable via 3i's AI technology," said Ken Kim, the chief executive of 3i, in an interview with The Korea Economic Daily on Aug. 24. 

ALL IT TAKES IS A SINGLE PICTURE

Beamo drastically cuts down the cost, time and efforts that go into creating a digital twin. All it requires is taking photos of the plant with a 360-degree camera or a smartphone, which is then put together into a 3D image via AI technology.

Even indoor spaces, which may not receive GPS signals, can be reconstructed digitally by using smartphone sensors that automatically track routes and gather spatial information without a reference point.

There’s also no need to separately insert the size of a system or each piece of equipment since the AI technology recognizes the location and distance between the objects and automatically measures the width and height.

“The error rate is around 5% from a 20-meter distance, and about 1% from a 5-meter distance,” said Kim, explaining that the logistics routes or equipment sizes can be identified and managed virtually.

The company's Beamo solution has seen a rise in demand due to the extended COVID-19 crisis and plant digitalization. Earlier this month, 3i tapped into the Japanese market through a partnership with the Japanese wireless carrier NTT, which expects to save up to 45 billion won ($38.5 million) annually by managing its mobile network facilities via digital twins.

Courtesy of 3i Inc
Courtesy of 3i Inc


The startup also operates a business-to-consumer (B2C) product Pivo, which is popular among video content creators and influencers abroad. Users can create high-quality video content with just a smartphone and Pivo, equipped with an auto-tracking technology that recognizes and follows people's movements from a distance.

TARGETING GLOBAL MARKET FROM THE BEGINNING

Founded in 2017, 3i was set up in Korea but targeted the global market from the beginning, raising 90% of its revenue from abroad.

“Our goal is to hold a 10% market share, valued at around 7 trillion won, in the global facility management market by 2025,” Kim said.

The company’s strategy has proven to be effective based on its recent performance. Last year, 3i recorded a strong 420% annual growth rate with a revenue of around 18 billion won, which the company already surpassed in the first half of this year. The company is aiming to post revenue of 50 billion won and a net profit of 7.5 billion won within the year.

Write to Han-gyeol Seon at always@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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