X Prize offers $10M competiton to build Star Trek-like medical tricorder

Tricorder will read variety of medical measurements for analysis on mobile device

The X Prize Foundation is out to dramatically change the medical  industry by offering a $10 million prize for the company that can build a mobile platform that can accurately diagnoses 15 diseases from 30 consumers in three days.

The idea is to use artificial intelligence and wireless sensing - much like the medical Tricorder of Star Trek fame - to make medical diagnoses independent of a physician or healthcare provider, X Prize stated. Metrics for health the device will need to measure 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 and give consumers a way to see the state of their health from a mobile device, the group said.

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A few of the other requirement for competitors, from the X Prize website on the Tricorder Challenge include:  "Given that each team will take its own approach to design and functionality, the device's physical appearance and functionality may vary immensely from team to team. Indeed, the only stated limit on form is that the mass of its components together must be no greater than five pounds. But because an important part of the qualifying round will be evaluating consumer experience in using it, the limitations set by this competition will force teams to make choices. Teams will have to consider tradeoffs amongst weight, functionality, power requirements, battery life, screen resolution, AI engine location, diagnosis capability, end consumer cost, and so on.

Beyond the weight requirement, there is no limit as to how many discrete components constitute a viable solution. For example, teams may use sensors that are attached to a phone-like control unit, fastened individually to the consumer, or kept apart and reserved for occasional use or home monitoring. Similarly, teams may create a tool that has a large screen, a small screen, or perhaps even no screen (audio only). Systems must include a way for consumers to store and share their information, which must be accessible remotely via the Internet. Additionally, teams are expected to follow guidelines and protocols that help ensure that consumer safety is held in the highest regard. This includes avoiding harm from electrical energy, thermal energy, chemical exposures, needles, lancets, and infection."

According to X Prize, competing teams must also deliver information in a way that provides what it called  "a compelling consumer experience while capturing real time, critical health metrics such as blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature."  The winning firms will let consumers in any location 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.

This latest X Prize Challenge will be sponsored by Qualcomm, whose Chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs said:  "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."

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  and on Facebook

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