Look at us! All together again, chatting about things and stuff. Well, one-way chatting. Which is actually less chatting than—What? Oh, ok. Dave says I’m rambling.
Today, we’re going to talk about Star Trek—sort of. We’re going to talk about a piece of tech on Star Trek called the Tricorder.
You do remember the Tricorder, right?
If you don’t know, Star Trek was created in the 1960s by a fella named Gene Roddenberry. According to his son, Rod (actual name Eugene), Gene was highly influenced by “the next big thing” in science to develop the tech for the show. Rod explained that his father would reach out to the scientific community, find out what the newest thing was, and ask, “What’s next?” It’s likely for this reason that many of the show’s gadgets are believable and, now, are replicable. You know, like the Tricorder, by way of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition.
The competition was comprised of teams from all over the world, including finalists Basil Leaf Technologies (US), Dynamical Biomarkers Group (Taiwan), Cloud DX (Canada), Aezon (US), Danvantri (India), DMI (US)—DMX was busy in rehab—and Intelesens Responsive Healthcare (UK). The competition officially launched in 2012. The teams were tasked with creating something consumers could use at home to accurately monitor health:
The devices are expected to accurately diagnose 13 health conditions (12 diseases and the absence of conditions)—10 required core conditions and a choice of three elective conditions—in addition to capturing five real-time health vital signs, independent of a health care worker or facility, and in a way that provides a compelling consumer experience.
- Required Core Health Conditions (10): Anemia, Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Diabetes, Leukocytosis, Pneumonia, Otitis Media, Sleep Apnea, Urinary Tract Infection, Absence of condition
- Elective Health Conditions (Choice of 3): Cholesterol Screen, Food-borne Illness, HIV Screen, Hypertension, Hypothyroidism/Hyperthyroidism, Melanoma, Mononucleosis, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Shingles, Strep Throat
- Required Health Vital Signs (5): Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Oxygen Saturation, Respiratory Rate, Temperature
The Tricorder had no strict aesthetic parameters, but could not be over five lbs. Hand-held and all that. Earlier this year, the winners were awarded. Final Frontier Medical Devices—the Basil Leaf Technologies team—took home first prize, with Dynamical Biomarkers Group coming in second. And, while the competition is over, the work doesn’t stop there.
Tricorder: Coming to a Store Near You
Qualcomm Foundation, which sponsored the competition, developed a post-prize fund in order to continue product development, consumer testing, industry adoption, retail commercialization, and more. According to XPRIZE, “Along with several strategic partners including the Roddenberry Foundation, XPRIZE and the Qualcomm Foundation will implement a series of initiatives to assist and support the teams in the further realization of their innovations.”
The initiative to bring the Tricorder to life—and to your fingertips—stems from the need to improve personal health in the US. The Tricorder will be able to help monitor existing/recurring health problems, as well as diagnose new illnesses. While the scope of diagnosis might seem relatively small, what the Tricorder—is scans the right word? ‘Cause I’m going to use it—scans for are the more prolific ailments in the US today. That means saving money on co-pays. It means saving money on extensive tests—some of which you don’t need. It means saving yourself the misery and frustration of going to the doctor in the first place.
Sponsors continuing support of the Tricorder are looking to educate citizens on the future of mobile health in the consumer industry. They are working on business plans for commercialization. They’re even working toward getting the Tricorder in stores, including Lowes—in the aisle between first-aid kits and soldering tools. In the years to come, and with a far less than perfect healthcare system, having the Tricorder commercially available will be a benefit we can’t afford not to have.