Finalists selected for $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize
Are you a gadget lover, not a doctor? International teams are working to create portable devices that could quickly and easily detect common ailments.
In any of the Star Trek films or TV episodes, it never took more than a quick sweep of a handheld gadget to diagnose the most obscure of ailments. Sure, Bones or Crusher were sometimes left without the proper cure, but they could always get a pretty good idea of what was wrong after just a quick scan.
Meanwhile, here in the real world, time-critical tests for conditions like stroke, pneumonia, and strep throat are often too slow. More problematically, they must be administered by medical professionals. Those in less civilized areas of the world often struggle to get the treatment they need.
A competition was launched back in 2012 to improve the situation, with a $10 million purse for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize. To win, a team must create a device that can quickly and accurately diagnose 16 health conditions, all in a non-invasive way, and all packaged into a device that is portable, re-usable, and easy enough to operate that a medical professional need not stand by.
The conditions, which range from congenital ailments like atrial fibrillation to contagious ones like mononucleosis, must all be detected by a single device that weighs no more than 5 pounds (2.3kg) -- that is, heavier than a Tribble but lighter than a horned Alfa 177 canine.
Teams have until the middle of next year to demonstrate a working device, but ahead of that they submitted proposals for how their devices would work. Twenty-one proposals were received, and from those the XPrize judging panel chose 10 finalists.