Two teams close in on Star Trek tricorder-like device
Two teams will compete in the final stage of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, which has seen competitors developing portable medical diagnostic devices inspired by the Star Trek tricorder. Devices from Dynamical Biomarkers Group and Final Frontier Medical Devices will now undergo consumer testing.
Proposed in 2011, before being launched in 2012, the ultimate aim of the contest is to give people "unprecedented access" to information about their health. It requires devices to diagnose and interpret 13 health conditions, monitor five vital health metrics and weigh less than 5 lb (2.3 kg) for portability.
There are ten conditions that the devices must be able to recognize (or recognize the lack of), which are anemia, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, leukocytosis, pneumonia, otitis media, sleep apnea and urinary tract infections. In addition, they must cover three of the following five conditions: HIV, hypertension, melanoma, shingles and strep throat.
"It is an impressive achievement for these two teams to advance to the consumer testing stage of the competition with their devices," says Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE lead Grant Campany in a press release. "This stage not only takes us one step closer to transforming sci-fi vision into a real-world impact, but more importantly, we are another important step closer to bringing a very user-friendly device to consumers around the globe, allowing them to proactively manage their own health in a way that has never been done before."
The Dynamical Biomarkers Group team is led by Harvard Medical School professor Chung-Kang Peng and comprises physicians, scientists and engineers, as well as mobile tech firm HTC. It is based out of Zhongli City in Taiwan. The Final Frontier Medical Devices team is based in Pennsylvania, US, and is led by emergency room physician Dr. Basil Harris and his brother George Harris, who is a network engineer.
The final testing phase will see consumers trained to use the two devices by a clinical coordinator, after which they will have a 90-minute session in which to generate a diagnosis using the devices. It will be carried out at the University of California's Altman Clinical Translational Research Institute, in San Diego.
A total of 29 teams from nine countries competed in the Tricorder XPRIZE, with 10 teams remaining by the end of 2014. The competition was extended last year to provide more time for the remaining seven teams at that point to refine and test their submissions. The two finalists were chosen as a result of those tests.
The contest has a US$10 million prize fund, $6 million of which will go to the winner, $2 million of which to the second-place team and a further $1 million to the team whose device scores best for monitoring vital signs in the final round. The testing is due to be carried out in early 2017, with the competition expected to be completed within the first quarter.
The video below provides an introduction to the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE.