It’s a must have for space travel – a hand held gadget which you can point at anything to find out more about it. No respectable Star Fleet crew would leave home without one, and they called theirs a tricorder. In 2012 the good folks at XPRIZE chose to help make this science fiction closer to science fact by launching a competition with US$10 million in prizes for working examples. Although a Star Trek tricorder could handle almost all of the material world, this first attempt is restricted to medical applications.
To be successful a device has to be able, without medical supervision, to diagnose 13 core and 3 elective health conditions as well as capture 5 real time, health vital signs – blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate and temperature. Results have to be available within 72 hours. From an initial field of more than 300 companies, just seven are in the finals.
The US based AEZON team is an interdisciplinary team of mechanical, biomedical and software engineering and science students from the Johns Hopkins University in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design.
Canadian medical device manufacturer Biosign’s CLOUD DX team is a group of programmers, software architects and biomedical engineers. As mentioned in Australian Popular Science, their cloud based Vitaliti was recently demonstrated at SXSW 2015. Although more designed as a fitness wearable, it can be modified for further diagnostic capabilities.
Indian American Megatrends India Private Limited has formed a dedicated DANVANTRI team for the challenge.
The DNA Medicine Institute (DMI) is a team of scientists, engineers and designers from the Boston-Cambridge USA area. They are continuing to develop their rHealth space medicine device. This has been developed with the help of NASA, the National Institute of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and already demonstrated in zero gravity.
The Taiwanese DYNAMICAL BIOMARKERS GROUP has assembled a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, medical researchers, physicists, applied mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers operating out of Taiwan’s National Central University (NCU).
US based Basil Leaf Technologies’ FINAL FRONTIER MEDICAL DEVICES group includes physicians, engineers, designers, health policy experts, mobile technology and sensor professionals.
US based medtech company SCANADU has joined with another competitor INTELSENS (formerly Zensor) out of the University of Ulster to form a collaboration between medical doctors, electrical engineers, chemists, mechanical engineers, mathematicians, designers and data scientists. This project was boosted in 2013 by raising $1.66 million on Indiegogo and supporters have already received their Scout sensor. As reported on Digital Trends, when you hold it to your forehead, it uses light to measure oxygen intake, an accelerometer to figure out how far the chest extends when you take a breath, and a small electrical plate under the thumb to measure heart rate. Other sensors being developed for the device will measure temperature, blood pressure, and other body functions.
Judging of the final products is expected to continue to the end of this year, with the winner announced early 2016, the 50th anniversary year of Star Trek.