Digital Avatars Could be the Future of treating Patients

Medicine is always at the forefront of technology, trying to find the best ways of treating patients and saving peoples lives. The information gathered by doctors and wearable health sensors helps to create a better understanding of your body and how to treat it. Using both digital and physical data, researchers at University College London (UCL) want to create a ‘medical avatar’ that could be used to run simulations for treatments.

Dr. Vanessa Diaz senior lecturer of bioengineering at UCL was principal investigator on the DISCIPULUS project. The idea being that a virtual version of individuals was created by a computer program that could then run these simulations to determine the most suitable course of treatment. Originally published in 2013, the project received contributions from over 200 researchers.


Talking to Wareable, Diaz explains the goal of the project: “We are really trying to achieve this dream of personalised medicine. I would like treatment to be tailored to me and my own unique conditions. It could also help people be more proactive about their health, rather than waiting for things to happen to us, we can predict and prevent and manage diseases. That’s going to be a revolution in healthcare.”

So while wearable sensors can help, and are being trialed, Diaz admits a full realised avatar model is seen as a “long term vision”. But this may also be helped by mixed reality (MR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies which are being pioneered in other areas of the medical profession. Devices like Microsoft’s Hololens have already been demoed in conjunction with medical training, showing full body imagery, so combining the two might not be too greater step.

Diaz adds: “We believe that the future of healthcare is digital healthcare. There is a huge amount of work to do. We need to make sure clinicians can trust our models, they need to be accurate and they need to be fast.”

VRFocus will continue to report on all the latest AR and MR innovations as the technology improves.