If you are a trekkie, which a lot of our readers are, you probably know that in Star Trek there are three main types of tricorders. One is a standard tricorder used to scan unfamiliar places and collect data, one is an engineering tricorder used for engineering purposes on the ship, and the last one is a medical tricorder used by doctors to collect data about a patient, which helps diagnose the patient. Each tricorder is a handheld gadget filled with technology goodness.
Today I’d like to focus on the medical tricorder. According to Wikipedia, “The medical tricorder has a detachable, high-resolution, handheld scanner that sends life-sign information to the tricorder itself. It can check all vital organ functions, detect the presence of dangerous organisms, and human physiology.”
For years, scientists and researchers have been trying to create a real-life medical tricorder. As of yet, such a device doesn’t exist, but that may change soon. All the Dr. McCoys around the world have a new incentive to create one of these, and it comes in the form of 10 million dollars.
Yup, the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize challenges people everywhere to create a handheld gadget that can identify key health metrics and diagnose 15 diseases (see the image below – it must detect all 12 things in red, plus 3 of them in blue). It can’t weigh more than 5 pounds. It has to be wireless and minimally or non-invasive. It doesn’t have to make the same noises as the real Star Trek tricorder, but that would be an added bonus for all of us trekkies.
This contest was launched in January, and although nobody has snagged the prize yet, it does not seem impossible. After all, much of the technology is already available to create such a device. There are all kinds of apps that can scan your body in various ways to detect and analyze things like your heart rate, urine, blood pressure, respiration, stress, breath and more. If you combine all those into a gadget along with some AI technology (one with a good beside manner), who knows, a medical tricorder could be in our lives sooner than we think! I can’t wait to see if someone wins the 10 million dollars.