Thanks to the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize competition, consumers could soon have the same diagnostic capabilities as Star Trek’s Leonard “Bones” McCoy. The ten finalist engineers have just been announced, with judges expected to make their final decisions based on both diagnostic accuracy and consumer experience by the end of 2015. The FDA will be consulting with all teams throughout the competition to prepare them for regulatory review as well, which means these devices could become commercially available shortly after. From Spectrum IEEE:
The Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize announced its ten finalist teams yesterday at the annual conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS). Each team must now get to work on building a consumer-friendly device that can diagnose 15 diseases and measure 5 vital signs. At the EMBS meeting there’s been a lot of talk about distributing healthcare technologies, shifting power from doctors to patients, and letting people manage their own care with sensors and data analytics. The Tricorder XPrize expresses this theme neatly with its tagline: “Healthcare in the palm of your hand.”
The finalist teams include Scanadu, a Silicon Valley startup that Spectrum has written about before. Another contender that looks like a heavyweight is Boston-based Team DMI, which is building a device that uses a drop of blood for diagnoses, based on single-molecule DNA scanning. The roster of finalists is impressively international, with other teams hailing from India, Canada, Taiwan, and several European countries.
Today’s wearable devices can already measure vital signs without much difficulty. But the disease diagnoses will pose a real challenge. The 21st century tricorders must be able to diagnose such conditions as diabetes, stroke, pneumonia, tuberculosis, hepatitis A, and the heart condition atrial fibrillation.