New ways of utilizing technology to enhance our lives are not surprising in a world where it is continuously evolving. What if I told you that the same technology that makes our favorite fictional characters come to life might also be employed to save lives?

Now employed to trace the emergence of diseases that limit mobility, motion capture suits were originally primarily used to bring characters to life in movies like Avatar. A new system that uses artificial intelligence to analyze body movements has been developed over the course of ten years by researchers at Imperial College and University College London. It can quickly and accurately determine the severity of diseases like Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). 

The technology can also be used to track patients recovering from other diseases that affect movement, including conditions involving the brain and nervous system, the heart, lungs, muscles, bones, and psychiatric disorders. 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 way we identify and treat disorders that limit movement may be completely altered by this application of filmmaking technology.