Decades after the medical crew aboard the USS Enterprise first used a "tricorder" to scan patients for ailments and anomalies, real world science is working to catch up.
Wednesday, 10 teams were named finalists in a
Four finalists in the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize contest are from the
More than 300 teams from around the world initially joined the Star Trek-inspired challenge, launched in
Next comes further judging from a panel of experts, diagnostic evaluations and consumer testing before a first-, second- and third-place winner will be named in early 2016 -- the 50th anniversary of the TV series' debut -- and take prizes worth
"The theme of Star Trek is really about what the future is going to be like and the kind of technology we're going to see," Viirre says. The challenge, to create "a handheld medical laboratory connected to computers," suggests what the next generation of mobile phones will be, he says.
By demonstrating the ability of sensor technologies as tools for health care providers to diagnose and treat patients, "this competition is really about leading a kind of revolution in consumer-driven health care," says
Rules for the Tricorder challenge: Entries continuously take a patient's vital signs (including blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature); detect a prescribed set of 15 diseases; and weigh less than 5 pounds.
While Starfleet personnel used tricorders to perform duties, the XPrize competition is built on the premise that Earthbound citizens could benefit from access to such a tool, Viirre says. You wouldn't have to be Mr. Spock or
The multi-part, integrated Aezon prototype finalist, for example, utilizes a wearable monitoring unit that continuously tracks the wearer's vital signs; a portable, lightweight lab box that reads disposable cartridges that test for the 15 specified diseases; and a smartphone app that directs users to needed diagnostic tests based on symptoms. All data are stored in a cloud where they can be accessed and analyzed using Aezon's Web application.
Aezon's team members are all students at
Innovation: The patent-pending Vitaliti necklace and cuff record streams of biological data, from which measurements of 11 physiological parameters (including blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration rate and heart arrhythmia detection) are taken. Uses proprietary cloud-based algorithms. Results are available instantly on any tablet, and are securely stored in the cloud for later retrieval, charting, trending and data mining.
Innovation: In the current phase of development, the technology offers integrated blood pressure, temperature and pulse oximeter (to measure oxygen saturation) in a single device, which is developed and is awaiting clinical trials. The next development phase will include integrating ECG (electrocardiogram), spirometer to test lung function, blood chemistry analyzer and glucose.
Innovation: A universal blood sensor that integrates a broad set of medical diagnostics in a compact portable unit. Technologies used are based on DMI's rHEALTH Sensor, developed with support from
Headquarters:Zhongli City, Taoyuan,
Innovation: Five subsystems -- a Smart Vital-Sense-Patch and Smart Vital-Sense-Wrist module; Smart Blood Sense module; Smart Scope module; Smart Exhaler module; and Smart Urine Sense module -- designed to be used by consumers simply and intuitively. Wirelessly connected to a smartphone, which runs a user-friendly app that carries out analysis to generate disease diagnosis.
Final Frontier Medical Devices
Innovation: Basil Leaf Technologies' DxtER(pronounced Dexter), is a portable, consumer-level device capable of collecting and interpreting large amounts of data to diagnose specific medical conditions, provide users with real-time insight regarding their health, and guide them to appropriate action. Developers deconstructed the diagnostic process for 22 medical conditions, then replicated them within the device's diagnostic engine (DxtER's "brain"). "It's an intuitive device that uses data that's robust enough to make a real clinical diagnosis," says team leader
MESI Simplifying diagnostics
Innovation: System consists of a medical-grade wristband and in-depth "modules" called "Shield," "To see," "To hear," "Pee" and "Blood." The wristband continuously monitors a patient's activity, and basic vital-signs modules provide additional information needed for diagnoses. The wearable "Shield" module, for example, provides more detailed vital-signs data. Data come together in a smartphone app where, with the help of an extensive questionnaire, it is presented in colorful and clear results.
Innovation:Scanadu Scout, a Bluetooth-enabled device, scans vital signs, including temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure, and sends readings to your smartphone. Included with the sensor are two disposable ScanaFlo urine analysis paddles for testing for pregnancy and health problems. The Scanadu Scout is "a medical instrument that can almost replace a clinic," company founder
Innovation:SCANurse utilizes novel existing technological solutions to solve multiple sensing challenges, from breath analysis to movement and visual analysis. The technical approach avoids the use of biological samples such as blood to maintain simplicity for the user. The interface is based on interactive engagement with the user to encourage long-term device-user interaction, together with a simple and easy-to-understand display of results.
Innovation:A wearable, non-invasive cardio-event monitor that detects when arrhythmias occur and immediately transmits them over Wi-Fi to a secure server that can be reviewed and diagnosed by a physician. It also detects respiration rate, temperature, and motion, plus blood and urine for a variety of additional tests.
Source Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize
CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images
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