The Day We Meet Our Digital Twin
In the middle of his presentation at the Stark Expo, Tony Stark shares a video of his father and while the video was progressing, Tony measured his blood toxicity level. After the presentation was over as well as the “Iron Man” hearing at Congress, he returns back to his lab and has a discussion with his personal assistant, JARVIS, or Just a Rather Very Intelligent System. JARVIS informs Tony that the Palladium concentration from the device that is saving his life was also in-fact killing him and that his blood toxicity levels were increasing. JARVIS was fully aware of Tony’s health and was presenting Tony with options of what to do. This thrilling story was the Sci-Fi version of someone engaging with their digital twin.
My digital twin knows what my heart rate is at all times. It knows how well I am sleeping at night and how many phases of REM sleep I am getting. It knows when my blood sugar levels are too high or too low. It knows how my muscles are behaving, and constantly monitors electrical signals of my heart, eyes, and brain. It takes thousands of measurements every day from a few sensors that are on my body and records/stores that data into a secure cloud. From there, that data is filtered, analyzed, and processed using high tech Apps/Algorithms and finally transformed into meaningful information that my Digital Twin App will provide me with notifications throughout the day.
These notifications will be important for me as they will tell me that I need to take in more or less sugar to meet my healthy glucose levels. In fact, it will recommend to me what type of food I should eat and when to eat it in order to have the best possible levels. It will tell me that I should get 25 minutes of Cardio done so that my heart rate can increase in order to stay on a healthy track to a long life and will make predictions based on historic data and my lifestyle. It will tell me based on my history, what time I should go to sleep in order to get the best possible outcome of having the recommended amount of REM cycles. It will alert me with ‘Amber Alert’ style notifications when it detects a possible harmful biological or chemical agent that was located in my body and that could damage my lungs or nerves.
What I described above is a day and time that the average American may not be far from right now. The day in which we meet our digital twin. The capabilities are there for us to use wearable technology to allow us to get adequate and important information about our health throughout the day. It will simply be a matter of strengthening the ecosystem that stores and processes all this data and making sure that all of it is cyber-secure. When these wearable technologies become mainstream, we will all be able to communicate with our digital twin by means of our phones, watches, glasses, or other new wearable technology.
This idea of the digital twin is already used today with many industrial applications. The Internet of Things (Industry 4.0 as its often coined) has begun, and companies are wreaking the benefits of having digital twins of their assets. Take for example the mighty jet engine in which temperature, pressure, and flow sensors provide terabytes of data to engineers to make recommendations on flight control for better efficiency based on predictive analysis. The results of using this Big Data for more efficient flights and better maintenance intervals saves airline companies millions of dollars.
The idea of our own digital twin will change the healthcare industry as we know it. Similar to the jet engine, our digital twin will notify us when to see the doctor due to potential harm coming (preventive maintenance)in order to get treated before things get progressively worse. Furthermore, it will know all of the medication that we are on and notify us when its time to take our course. The idea of an “annual checkup” will no longer apply as our data in real time will provide health professionals and us with daily if not sooner progress reports on our health.
Indeed the data of our health will also carry with it great value as well. Insurance companies will no longer provide base rates to large groups of customers but rather each individual will have a unique rate based on how we take care of our health. More junk food, drugs/alcohol consumed in our body, the rate goes up. Exercising and eating properly, the rate goes down. This of-course happens if we agree to sell our data to insurance companies in the first place. This trend has already begun with the way we drive and car insurance companies. Our rate can be unique and based upon our performance as a driver (see Root car insurance).
This massive change of the healthcare industry as we know it is just the beginning for the Internet of Things. Thinking back on Iron Man’s personal assistant JARVIS, and its ability to communicate with Tony Stark about his personal health and progress. It is true that when we consider Augmented Reality (AI) advancements as well along with our digital twins, we may not be far off from our own personal assistants like JARVIS either.