Star Trek famously introduced the Tricorder in 1967, a fictional medical scanner that could non-invasively detect a wide variety of ailments and illnesses. More than 40 years later, the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize is offering $10 million to whomever can make the Tricorder a reality.
When combined with the powerful, mobile computers and sensors available today, the tricorder could potentially change the way the whole world does healthcare forever. Peter Diamandis, X Prize Foundation CEO and Chairman, says a winning device would essentially be like “OnStar for the body,” providing a home device that would let you know if you are ill and possibly transfer information to doctors so they can diagnose less serious illnesses (such as strep throat) remotely.
The idea for the Tricorder X prize was a combination of the Artificial Intelligence Physician and Lab-on-a-Chip prizes, which were combined and sponsored by Qualcomm, a mobile communications firm. The prize is for $10 million to the top three teams who create a “tool capable of capturing key health metrics and diagnosing a set of 15 diseases.”
Tricorder must measure heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature, and oxygen saturation. It will diagnose 13 core conditions like stroke and diabetes, and conditions such as melanoma or strep throat. On top of that, it has to be five pounds or less and have the ability to upload data to a cloud every 12 hours, giving patients a history that tracks changes and patterns while detecting illness in advance.
Registration for the prize will run through August 2013, with a qualification round in 2014 that will bring the 250+ teams down to 10 or less. Finalists will develop their technology in late 2014, and consumer tests will be run in early 2015. The prize will be awarded by June 2015.
It’s a tight schedule and a massive goal, and a big prize to boot. However, it is important to keep in mind that the money is probably not a high priority for participants. When far more than $10 million is often put into a project like this, there is no dollar amount that can compare to making such a giant breakthrough for humanity.
Image CC licensed by Mike Seyfang: Star Trek Tricorder replica