Wageningen University: Digital twins help with dietary advice

Digital Geminis are digital versions of living (and non-living) organisms and objects. For example, cells, plants, animals, people and ecosystems.

This digital copy can help to better understand, describe and analyse things. Because the digital copy is filled with data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. In addition to looking at the current situation, you can also use this knowledge to predict and test how something (or someone) reacts to things.

How will such a digital copy help with dietary advice?
In the project ‘Me, my diet and I’ Lydia Afman and her team are working on a human ‘digital twin’ that will help with personalised food advice.

In this digital twin they combine all information that plays a role in the processing of food. Think of data such as gender, BMI, age, blood pressure and fat distribution in the body. By combining this with an algorithm, it is possible to make predictions about the effect of certain food on a specific person.

This may sound very abstract and futuristic. But the researchers want to make it very practical by converting it into an app. This app will give users advice about their diet, such as recommended products and menu suggestions. In addition to their physical characteristics, the advice in the app should also consider the user’s behaviour, preferences and philosophy of life.

It makes a difference whether someone is a vegetarian or is not allowed to eat certain products because of their religion. We want to develop something that works.
Lydia Afman, researcher Human Nutrition and Health
WUR is creating more digital twins
Besides these human digital twins, researchers at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) are also working on other doubles.

Researchers Sjoerd Boersma and Katarina Streit for instance, are building a 3D simulation model for a tomato crop. This model will be fed real-time sensor information from a real greenhouse. Sjoerd and Katarina tell more about this project in the video ‘Growing tomatoes digitally’.

Another example is the ‘Digital future farm’. In this project, Thomas Been and his team are working on a copy of the existing nitrogen cycle on an arable or dairy farm. This gives researchers and farmers the opportunity to see how to close the nitrogen cycle as much as possible.

Digitale tweelingen
Digitale tweelingen
Digitale tweelingen
Want to learn more about this type of technological developments?
Building digital twins is a great example of data science. With data science, you can translate (big) data into useful insights.

Curious about how you can use data science in your field? WUR offers you the opportunity to study this further. For instance, there are:

Optional courses
Bachelor minor Data Science (Engelstalig)
Master specialisation Data Science for Health Promotion (Engelstalig)
Master specialisation Data Science for Healthy and Sustainable Consumption (Engelstalig)
Various online courses