For most of its two years as a startup, BioDigital played its cards close to its chest. Though it worked with over a hundred different companies and organizations while developing its virtual human body, it kept its API locked down and under wraps.
That just changed, and it’s going to be big news across a number of billion-dollar industries.
By creating a fully functional virtual human being, complete with all organ systems, chemical interplays, and environmental sensitivities, BioDigital has made the Human Genome Project look soooo 1990s. They haven’t just mapped out the markers that make us tick; they’ve built the clock and enabled endless tinkering to equip everyone with a better understanding of the body’s processes, responses, and disorders.
Their creation is a real, working human being, built in binary and graphics instead of bone and gristle. Not just one human being, either—potentially any human being, with any combination of attributions.
Surgeons can get a detailed preview of the path they need to take without a single incision. Athletes can see how muscles function to better optimize their movements. Laymen can see how hormone intake and metabolism work at the cellular level with fully-responsive 3D graphic modeling. But that’s just the beginning.
BioDigital’s virtual human isn’t a static and singular creation like Frankenstein’s monster. It’s a fully-customizable digital map of human anatomy and physiology, that can be fed a virtually endless set of parameters to mimic practically any condition, state of health, body type, and other details of a specific individual’s internal ecosystem.
With the public release of their API, the tweakable nature of BioDigital’s virtual body will allow all kinds of applications to offer personalized feedback loops to users.
Why it Matters
The implications for healthcare and medical education are obvious.
Full-body internal views of particular patients controlled by constantly-updated measurements—measurements taken by biofeedback devices that are more accurate, more efficient, and more cost-effective than measurements taken by human healthcare professionals.
Simulated injuries, disorders, and other conditions to study the effects of different treatment options without the need for real patients.
The possibilities go much further than that, however.
Patients can more accurately and effectively monitor their own conditions, with visualizations that actually make sense. Athletes and others can learn how to cope with injuries by trying different adjustments in a fine-tuned virtual body before putting it to work with real muscles.
Perhaps extending to the virtual world, games could be developed that use players’ real body stats to control in-game abilities and fatigue, with improvements in actual physical fitness leading to improvements in avatar capabilities—the next great leap in gamified health since Wii Sports.
In short, having a public API to a program that accurately simulates not just the human body, but any human body means our understanding of ourselves—and our interactions with ourselves—just got a whole lot deeper.
Don’t be surprised to see a new and larger generation of wearable tech, body-based apps, and smarthome luxuries start pouring out over the next couple of years. BodyDigital is one startup that, like bodies corporeal, will beget many others now that it’s on full display and on the open market.
Daniel A. Guttenberg is an Atlanta-based writer who fell into the startup world by accident and has been gleefully treading water ever since. He will be survived by his beard and his legacy of procrastination.