In a world where technology is constantly changing, finding new ways to use it to improve our lives is not surprising. Would you believe me if I told you that the same technology that brings our favorite fictional characters to life might also be used to save lives?

Motion capture suits were originally used to bring characters to life in films such as Avatar but are now used to track the spread of diseases that impair mobility. Researchers at Imperial College and University College London have spent the last ten years developing a novel technology that employs artificial intelligence to evaluate bodily movements. When assessing the severity of conditions like Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), it can do so rapidly and precisely.

The device can also be used to monitor patients recovering from other illnesses that impair movement, including those affecting the heart, lungs, muscles, bones, and neurological system. According to Dr. Valeria Ricotti of the Great Ormond Street Institute for Child Health, she believes the impact on the diagnosis and development of new drugs for a wide range of diseases could be “massive.”