What is a digital twin?
The concept has been around for decades, starting with NASA, but recently has accelerated in the manufacturing world as design engineers recreate a digital version of the machines in their factories.
By using “smart” connected to the internet, real-time data can be accessed continuously and fed into an existing computer model. Around-the-clock data collection allows the digital twin to constantly update to the most recent version of the machine. When something goes wrong, the machine’s digital twin notifies you and provides an environment to diagnose the problem and test real solutions, before you send someone to fix the machine with the best predicted actions.
The concept has very tangible benefits – reduced costs associated with unplanned downtime, a move from real-time to predictive maintenance, less harm to machines when problems occur, quicker implementation of solutions, and cost savings of planned maintenance over emergency maintenance.
What if you could have a digital twin?
In the past few years alone, the consumer market for wearables has evolved substantially and now 25% of Americans own a wearable device. Each year, Apple iterates on their smartwatch, now including an FDA-approved approach to recognizing A-fib and alerting you with the ability to call emergency personnel.
Wearable devices went from simple pedometers to real-time heart maintenance in the same way that sensors evolved from simple on-off switches to providing real-time data back to a computer.
With constant sensor data being fed back into an app, why not accumulate all sources of your body’s data into a real-time updated version of your own body? This could help doctors provide better solutions, and allow them to test treatment options for disease before subjecting a patient to the side effects or pain of different treatments.
After an MRI, an entire replica of your physical body could be stored digitally, and the data from your wearable devices could continually inform this replica of yourself and body status. There would be no need to sign release forms and request transfers of patient records, as you would have access to the perfect sample of your body to give your doctor. By referencing your “digital twin”, your doctor could then work on potential outcomes and scenarios to present your options to you, with machine learning and back-end data analysis providing the best predictions in your care for each option. This technology gives us the opportunity to fully digitize our health records to receive the best care for our body in real-time, truly changing the medical industry and quality of care.