Hearts are too valuable to risk—which is why the NSF announced Friday that it would be funneling millions of dollars into a new effort to develop virtual hearts for medical device development and testing.
“CyberHeart” sounds more like something we’d come across in a Terminator movie, but the new virtual heart platform, led by computer scientists at Stony Brook University, is very much tooled toward humans. CyberHearts will specifically be used to test and validate new medical devices early on during their design phase. By detecting flaws in such devices before animal and human trials begin, CyberHeart, researchers hope, will speed the development process along, while helping to prevent the rollout of products with dangerous and costly bugs.
Simulations of complex electrical patterns in the heart that are indicative of cardiac arrhythmic disorders, including spiral waves and spiral wave breakup. Image: CMACS group
The CyberHeart platform will essentially combine computational models of heart dynamics—for instance, it can be used to simulate electrical patterns that indicate cardiac arrhythmia—with other mathematical tools to study how the human heart interacts with medical devices. In the future, CyberHearts may also be used to optimize the heart device settings on a patient by patient basis before they are implanted.
What’s more, we now get to live in a world where virtual hearts are a thing. Crossing my fingers that we get some really cool animations out of this.