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Mohand Tahar Kechadi

HHIT Series Episode 10: Engineering the metaverse, with Professor Tahar Kechadi

On the Human Health, Impact and Technology webinar series [#HHITseries] on February 6th, 2024, Professor Tahar Kechadi, Full Professor in the UCD School of Computer Science, spoke to host Professor Patricia Maguire about his research on the applications of Cloud and Edge Computing, metaverse, and Big Data Analytics in real-world scenarios such as healthcare and digital agriculture.


Prof Kechadi is a data scientist, which he describes as the “study of data that extract
meaningful insights”. It is a multidisciplinary approach that combines mathematics,
statistics and artificial intelligence concepts to analyse very large amounts of data. His
“central focus” is on efficiently collecting, managing, and analysing data for various real-
world applications, including healthcare and farming. Listing the challenges of big data
as volume, velocity, veracity, and variety, he also emphasises the often overlooked
issues of security and data privacy. 

BigO Project

One of Prof Kechadi’s EU-funded research projects is BigO, a public health decision
support system for measuring obesogenic behaviours of children in relation to their local
environment. BigO involved collecting data from 9,000 children from Ireland, Greece
and Sweden, using a seamless app deployed on smartwatches and smartphones,
ensuring anonymity to safeguard privacy while effectively analysing the children's
“We noticed that the children tend to be less active than they should be,” said Prof
Kechadi, also noting the wide availability of food in their everyday environment. 

Anonymising Data

For projects such as BigO, Prof Kechadi says “various techniques” are used to
anonymise the data. 
“For example, if you are exercising around UCD, when I store the data I will never show
UCD as the geolocation,” he said, adding that particular care must be taken when
gathering data from and about children. 


Prof Kechadi says that from a computer scientist’s point of view, the metaverse is simply
another evolution of technology. 
“I started working as a young researcher on the grid, then the grid moved into cloud
computing and then edge computing. Now we are moving into the metaverse, it’s just
another system; an evolution of the grid and even the internet itself.”
He describes the metaverse as “a fully immersive, self-sustaining virtual shared space
that combines the physical, human and digital worlds”. He said that recent

advancements in technology allow the integration of these elements, enabling users to
lead digital-native lives and explore alternative experiences within this virtual world.

Metaverse Healthcare

“I think that metaverse has the potential to reshape the whole healthcare landscape,”
said Prof Kechadi, adding that it will do so by enabling global collaboration in medical
research, making advancements more accessible and accelerating the discovery of

Healthcare via the metaverse also promises to enhance training affordability, elevate
telemedicine precision, and drive innovations in mental health, particularly through
virtual reality therapy. The metaverse is also anticipated to improve patient engagement,
motivating individuals to adhere to treatments more effectively. 
Prof Kechadi also noted that people of limited means will have equal access to

Food Production

Prof Kechadi believes the metaverse also has the potential to optimise food production
operations, from crop seeding to the final product. This will hopefully address the critical
challenge of efficiently increasing food output while preserving the environment.