Design A Medical Tricorder, Win $10 Million

Here’s a design competition guaranteed to appeal to your inner geek: The folks over at the X Prize Foundation and Qualcomm have launched the Tricorder X Prize, offering $10 million for the development of a mobile device that can be used to accurately diagnose diseases. According to the website:

As envisioned for this competition, the device will be a tool capable of capturing key health metrics and diagnosing a set of 15 diseases. Metrics for health could include such elements as blood pressure, respiratory rate, and temperature. Ultimately, this tool will collect large volumes of data from ongoing measurement of health states through a combination of wireless sensors, imaging technologies, and portable, non-invasive laboratory replacements.

The goal: to provide a way for consumers to receive direct medical care without actually seeing a medical professional. Or, in other words, to finally deliver (sort of) on one of Star Trek‘s coolest tech toys, that handy Tricorder that was able to do everything from diagnose exotic illnesses to detect the presence of alien life forms on distant planets.

Before I get any testy responses from Star Trek fans, the competition is strictly focused on the medical version of the Tricorder, not the general purpose or engineering models. There have been other portable medical imaging devices, and some Tricorder-themed mobile phone apps, some of which have run afoul of copyright attorneys. Then there’s the Tricorder Project, focused on low-cost mobile sensing technology for the masses.

The Tricorder X Prize was launched in January, with the qualifying round scheduled for 27 to 28 months afterward. From there 10 teams will advance based on a controlled demonstration of sensor validity, and an evaluation of supporting studies, multimedia and prototypes. The final round will occur several months later, with the teams competing in diagnostic and consumer experience evaluations. In addition to the cash, the winner will also be allowed to shout “I’m an engineer, not a doctor!” as many times as they like.

You can see a video about the prize below, and something a little more lighthearted below that:

Source: X Prize Foundation

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