Qualcomm wants a medical tricorder

What do “Bones” McCoy, Julian Bashir and The Doctor (EMH) have in common? Winning personalities? A stellar bedside manner? Hmm. Probably none of those. 

But what about the medical tricoder?

As every self-respecting Trekkie knows, Starfleet issues three primary variants of the device: the standard tricorder (exploration), the engineering tricorder and the medical tricorder.

It is the latter version Qualcomm is most interested in, as the chip company and the X PRIZE Foundation have generously offered $10 million for the creation of a device (with a maximum weight of 5lb) that functions like a Star Trek medical tricorder.

According to the rules of the contest, the tricorder must leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and wireless sensing to make medical diagnoses independent of a physician or healthcare provider. 

The goal?

To accelerate the development of devices that will provide people with real-time access to their state of health. And the standards are indeed high. The hefty prize will be awarded to the team that develops a mobile platform capable of most accurately diagnosing a set of 15 diseases across 30 people in three days.

The winner must also deliver this information in a way that provides a compelling “consumer experience” while capturing real time, critical health metrics such as blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature.

“Health care today certainly falls far short of the vision portrayed in Star Trek,”  said Qualcomm CEO Dr. Jacobs.

“By sponsoring the Tricorder X PRIZE competition, we [hope to] accelerate the development of tools that can empower [individuals] to take charge of their own bodies and manage their own care.”