In a world where technology is constantly advancing, it’s not surprising to see new ways of utilizing it to improve our lives. But what if I told you that the same technology used to bring our favorite movie characters to life could also be used to save lives?

Motion capture suits, once primarily used to bring characters to life in films such as Avatar, are now being utilized to track the onset of diseases that impair movement. Researchers at Imperial College and University College London have spent a decade developing a new system that utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze body movements in order to quickly and accurately assess the severity of diseases such as Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The system has been shown to measure the severity of these genetic disorders twice as quickly as the best doctors and has the potential to greatly reduce the time and cost required to develop new drugs in clinical trials.

Dr. Valeria Ricotti, of the Great Ormond Street Institute for Child Health, describes that she is completely blown away and believes the impact on the diagnosis and development of new drugs for a wide range of diseases could be “massive.” The technology can also be used to monitor patients recovering from other diseases that affect movement, including conditions involving the brain and nervous system, the heart, lungs, muscles, bones, and psychiatric disorders. This adaptation of the technology used in filmmaking has the potential to revolutionize the way in which we diagnose and treat movement-impairing diseases.