Heart to heart
Imagine the heart of one of the world’s greatest endurance athletes. Now imagine what her heart looks like when running a marathon.
What happens to a heart, even one of the fittest around, when enduring a challenge like the Queensboro Bridge at mile 15 of the TCS New York City Marathon?
Imagine the difference it might make to see, measure, and monitor a heart going through such significant stress—and predict with high accuracy how it will perform. Imagine you could hold a realistic digital copy of this heart in your hand or explore inside its ventricles at every beat.
If we could do all this, would it help athletes train to perform their best and avoid injury? Would it transform healthcare if we could see an individual’s heart in such detail and predict what is going to happen? Could doctors customize care plans to make everyone’s heart healthier based on their unique individual needs?
All of this can be done with digital twin technology that enables the creation of a virtual replica of a physical object, process, or system which is used to simulate, predict, and improve real-world activities.
TCS recently announced a partnership with Dassault Systèmes to join the Living Heart Project, which unites cardiologists, researchers, educators, regulators, and other experts to develop and validate realistic digital simulations of the human heart.
Now, TCS is taking this innovation to the next level through a partnership with legendary runner, two-time Olympian, and Boston Marathon champion Des Linden. With Des’s help, TCS is creating the first-ever digital heart of a long-distance runner.
TCS’ commitment to endurance running
As the premier sponsor of endurance running races worldwide, including the TCS New York City Marathon, TCS makes marathons accessible and rewarding for athletes and fans alike.
TCS leaders believe that in the same way technology transforms businesses, running transforms lives and communities.
Creating Des’s digital heart takes TCS’ commitment to endurance running to the next level. Previously, TCS technology helped runners’ families view their races from anywhere in the world with a smartphone and internet connection, explore a marathon route in the multiverse, and track runners anywhere along the 26.2 mile course.
Now TCS is combining a passion for running with powerful innovation in digital twin technology to create a brand-new way for athletes to measure their health and performance and transform how they train.
Digital Twins: At the heart of a new era of innovation
Digital twins are one of the most exciting technologies today.
Not only are they already transforming industries such as manufacturing, they also have enormous potential to make positive impacts across every business and society at large. TCS’ 2023 Digital Twindex report showed that futurists and industry experts believe digital twins will make their way into every government, business, home, and human by 2035.
The report also identified digital twins’ ability to power connected, real-time healthcare as one of the digital twin use-cases that will most impact human life.
Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), 5G, computational power, cloud connectivity, real time data analytics, virtual reality, augmented reality, and other areas mean that a world where doctors know what is happening inside their patients’ bodies at all times via digital twins isn’t far off.
This is the future TCS envisions with its Digital BioTwins, which require high-fidelity computational biology and biophysics research to model human organs digitally. Digital versions of human organs give doctors, researchers, and surgeons new and highly advanced ways to test the effectiveness of different treatments. They can also research new drugs and ensure their safety, practice a new operation technique without risk to life, and predict what will happen to patients in response to any number of scenarios. Digital BioTwins are so powerful because they enable accurate, replicable care without intrusion, without risk.
With heart disease the leading cause of death in the US, it is more important than ever to innovate techniques to keep hearts healthy. This partnership and project to create an advanced digital heart for one of the world’s top athletes is designed to prove the tremendous potential that is on the horizon for the healthcare industry.
What does Des’s digital heart do?
With Des’s Digital Heart, TCS aims to achieve real results, including helping her recover better and train smarter by harnessing the predictive power of digital twins.
They set out to answer the following questions: How can digital twin technology help one of the world’s most decorated marathoners improve her performance? How can the insights we learn from Des help the average person achieve their goals and live healthier? What if Des could shave 30 seconds off her personal best without ever lacing up?
Digital twins are uniquely suited to answer these questions because they enable simulations at speeds and scales that would never be possible in the real world. While this project is focused on the heart, imagine if a full digital twin of Des was created. And what if that digital twin of a person had an entire digital twin of a marathon course to train on? Des could change a range of variables from temperature (such as the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon’s record heat for November) to amount of sleep, to wetter road conditions.
Des’s digital heart will initially enable heart rate monitoring, cardiac performance analysis, and injury prevention by running various simulations and analyzing the results.
The tech to innovate
A digital heart is a high-fidelity multiscale computational model of the cardiac system.
It enables insight into myocardium mechanisms, subcellular mechanisms, electromechanical activation (generation and conduction of cardiac electrical potential leading to cardiac muscle contraction), and hemodynamics (valvular functions, chamber pressures, myocardial wall tension, and coronary blood flow) on both the micro and macro scales.
TCS creates a digital heart of a number of data sets, including an MRI. With the data from an MRI alongside various historical and speculative data sets, a functioning heart is modeled in a virtual environment. By applying AI/ML and other analysis, users can see the impact of different conditions and situations such as beginning a long-term exercise program or effect of medication.
After a digital twin of a heart is created, researchers can go a step further and use 3D printing to create a physical version of a heart. A 3D printed digital twin heart allows a doctor to practice surgical techniques and test solutions such as new heart valves or drugs without ever touching an actual body.