'Digital twin' technology helps Japanese builders

New building projects can have a huge impact on their neighborhoods, both good and bad.

"Digital twin" technology now lets builders see ahead of time what the effect will be, and also helps preserve historical structures. It's being used by a growing number of Japanese construction firms.

Major general contractor Taisei used the technology in digital space to reproduce the west side of Tokyo's Shinjuku Station, home to many skyscrapers.

The company captured data on the streets, using special equipment to three-dimensionally grasp the shape of structures.

Details like building height and the relative location of trees lining the streets, as well as roadside curbs, are accurately generated to the millimeter.

This allows various simulations, such as seeing how a new high-rise might block sunlight in surrounding areas at different times of day.

Taisei says the technology will give an accurate sense of how new buildings or redevelopment projects will affect the area around them.

Another major constructor, Shimizu, teamed up with Eiheiji temple in the central prefecture of Fukui to digitally recreate temple structures.

Shimizu says the technology can help verify how well the buildings are preserved, and help with repairs in case they are damaged by a disaster or fire.