The Tricorder Might Soon Become a Reality
First seen in the Star Trek TV shows and movies, the fabled Tricorder—a handheld gadget that can monitor and diagnose health conditions—has inspired inventors from around the globe to boldly go where no medical device has gone before. At the 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society in August, 10 teams were named the finalists in the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize, a contest to develop a working Tricorder. The final three teams will share a prize of US $10 million.
Now at its midway point, the four-year competition could forever change how we diagnose and treat medical conditions, especially in remote regions. First announced in 2012, more than 300 teams entered their designs and the teams have now been winnowed down to those final 10. Similar to the original Tricorder, the top teams all proposed handheld devices that can gather, analyze, and record data to help provide accurate diagnosis and treatment for conditions such as diabetes, pneumonia, and stroke. Now they must build them.
The teams are from Canada, India, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. While some of the innovators are already working professionally in a related field, such as biomedical engineering, others are made up of students like the 16-member Aezon team from Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.