Does this title bring back fond memories of the groundbreaking Star Trek TV series? Have you dreamed of the day when you would have a personal medical Tricorder of Star Trek fame?
I was initially going to cover some great new medical gadgets, but I uncovered some real-life Tricorders instead! These days the news cycle has obliterated a lot of good news happening on our planet.
In this issue, I cover the finalist in the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize. We may be closer than you think to be able to diagnose our medical conditions.
Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize
The non-profit XPrize Foundation has an impressive history of sponsoring global incentive competitions to kickstart industry-changing technology that may bring us closer to a better, safer, more sustainable world.
The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE was a $10 million global competition to incentivize the development of innovative technologies capable of accurately diagnosing a set of 13 medical conditions independent of a healthcare professional or facility, ability to continuously measure 5 vital signs, and have a positive consumer experience.
Good News: Founded by Dr. Peter Diamandis, the XPrize Foundation and its partners have already funded wonderful advances in the areas of Space, Oceans, Learning, Health, Energy, Environment, Transportation, Safety and Robotics. More are in the works.
Final Frontier Tricorder
The finalist in this XPrize was Basil Leaf Technologies (Paoli, PA), a team led by brothers Dr. Basil Harris, an emergency room physician, and George Harris, a network engineer.
After four years of development, team Final Frontier created DxtER (pronounced “Dexter”), an artificial intelligence-based engine that learns to diagnose medical conditions by integrating learnings from clinical emergency medicine with data analysis from actual patients. DxtER includes a group of non-invasive sensors that are designed to collect data about vital signs, body chemistry and biological functions. This information is then synthesized in the device’s diagnostic engine to make a quick and accurate assessment.
Good News: This Tricorder is on the way. Post-competition initiatives include more R&D and FDA submission, securing production and marketing partners, creating a feature-length educational documentary, and a nationally distributed museum exhibit. The Qualcomm Foundation has committed $3.8 million, and an additional commitment by The Roddenberry Foundation of $1.6 million will adapt the device for use in hospitals and communities in the developing world.
Note that a second-place prize of $1 million was granted to Taiwan-based finalist, Dynamical Biomarkers Group, led by Harvard Medical School Associate Professor Chung-Kang Peng, Ph.D. and supported by HTC Research.
Perhaps these devices are not quite as magical as the Star Trek version, but our exponential advances in technology do bode well for a fantastic future. Hopefully, our government won’t continue to take a back seat in leading scientific research and development. Fortunately, there are some impressive people and companies with deep pockets who will continue to fuel advances that help us lead a longer, more healthy life.