Want To Win $10 Million? Then Invent The Tricorder From Star Trek

Here’s a little bit about the Star Trek Tricorder from Wikipedia:

The standard tricorder is a general-purpose device used primarily to scout unfamiliar areas, make detailed examination of living things, and record and review technical data. The medical tricorder is used by doctors to help diagnose diseases and collect bodily information about a patient; the key difference between this and a standard tricorder is a detachable hand-held high-resolution scanner stored in a compartment of the tricorder when not in use.

What a useful bit of kit. We could certainly use those in real life.

So lets make it happen. Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation are leading the drive with a new incentive, backed up with a $10 million carrot.

It’s something they do a lot – writing cheques to lead innovation. They started with the Ansari Prize that lead to SpaceShipOne taking flight as the first non-government space vehicle.

The Tricorder prize was announced at CES. From the press release:

“There is a dire need to improve access to healthcare globally and provide consumers with an opportunity to be active participants in their own health,” said Dr. Diamandis. “The Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE will incent the creation of technologies that can empower the consumer with the ability to decide when, where and how to seek health information and care.”

The $10 million top prize will be awarded to the team that develops a mobile platform that most accurately diagnoses a set of 15 diseases across 30 consumers in three days. Teams 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. The winning solutions will enable consumers in any location to quickly and
effectively assess health conditions, determine if they need professional help and answer the question, “What do I do next?” when it comes to their health.

“Health care today certainly falls far short of the vision portrayed in Star Trek. By sponsoring the Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE competition, the Qualcomm Foundation will stimulate the imaginations of entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and doctors to create wireless health services and technologies that improve lives, increase consumer access to healthcare and drive efficiencies in the healthcare system,” said Dr. Jacobs. “This competition will accelerate the development of tools that can empower consumers to take charge of their own bodies and manage their own care.”

Look: they want the diagnosis of medical problems to be “compelling” for the consumer. And so a generation of cyberchondriacs were born.

A hand-held multi-purpose scanner with high levels of accuracy and a wide range of cross-checked functions would be superb, I’d just rather have it used on me by a professional than be expected to understand the subtleties myself.

Anyway, I’m sure Star Trek had a huge influence on the mobile phone, and now the medical tricorder is inching closer to reality. Next on the shopping list would be that tolerant, multi-racial community, right?