Life Sciences Increases its Doses of the Metaverse

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The constellation of metaverse technologies includes extended reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, digital twins, non-fungible tokens, and smart devices.

The potential value of the metaverse is still an uncertainty at best – there’s still more hype around it than there is real-life applications. However, that’s not stopping one of the most research-intensive and cutting-edge industries – life sciences – from seriously studying leveraging components of the metaverse.

That’s the word from Accenture, which says the life sciences industry is getting bullish on the metaverse, with 91% of 100 medical technology and 85% of 100 biopharma executives anticipating metaverse-related technologies to have a positive impact on their industries. Such immersive technologies may play a role in helping to solve manufacturing and device problems, improve equity in clinical trial participation and build more resilient supply chains to provide patients and healthcare professionals with more personalized experiences.

The constellation of metaverse technologies includes extended reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, digital twins, non-fungible tokens, and smart devices. According to the report, life sciences leaders (91% of medical technology executives and 85% biopharma executives) expect the metaverse to have a positive impact on their organizations, while nearly half of the biopharma executives surveyed believe the metaverse will have a breakthrough or transformational impact on their organizations.

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The Accenture report says metaverse capabilities are evolving from four different directions:

Data collection: The internet “is being reimagined with the metaverse as a platform for digital experiences that provide boundless places where people can meet and interact, and Web3 is reinventing how data can be owned by individuals and moved with the person and not the platform,” the report’s authors said. In the future, a new generation of digital devices will integrate into the metaverse and could include smart technology in everyday objects like home appliances, and ‘smart’ cars that provide salient data on healthy human behaviors along with medically regulated devices such as Donisi, which can simultaneously detect and analyze multiple bio-parameters.”

Programmable physical assets: “Nearly nine in 10 of the MedTech and biopharma executives surveyed believe that programming the physical environment will emerge as a competitive differentiation in their industry,” the report states. “Augmented reality, 5G, ambient computing, 3D printing, and smart materials are converging in sophisticated ways, turning the physical world into an environment that is as smart, customizable, and as programmable as the digital one.”

Artificial intelligence and its supporting data: “‘Unreal’ qualities that are becoming fundamental to artificial intelligence, and even data, making the synthetic seem authentic,” the report states. “Synthetic data is being used to train AI models in ways that real-world data practically cannot or should not. Synthetic data can represent patient datasets for use in research, training, or other applications. This realistic (yet unreal) data can be shared, maintaining the same statistical properties while protecting confidentiality and privacy. It can be developed to accommodate increased diversity to counter bias, thus overcoming the pitfalls of real-world data. More than nine-tenths of biopharma (92%) and MedTech (91%) executives report that their organization is dependent on AI technologies to function effectively.

Quantum leaps: The metaverse will be boosted by a new class of machines – quantum computing – “stretching the boundaries of what computers can do,” the Accenture analysts state. “Problems once thought impossible to solve because they require computing large, complex datasets are now in the realm of the possible.” Nearly all the surveyed biopharma (94%) and MedTech (96%) executives are looking to deploy quantum-level power when it becomes available, the survey shows.

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About Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is RTInsights Industry Editor. He is a regular contributor to Forbes on digital, cloud and Big Data topics. He served on the organizing committee for the recent IEEE International Conference on Edge Computing (full bio). Follow him on Twitter @joemckendrick.

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