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Handhelds Medicine

CES: X PRIZE Could Make Star Trek-Style Tricorder a Reality (Video) 40

Posted by Roblimo
from the it-needs-to-diagnose-a-fever-better-than-a-mom-does dept.
In January, 2012, Slashdot carried a story about the launch of a $10 million X-Prize for Tricorder design. This year, at CES, Timothy Lord met Alan Zack, who works for the X PRIZE Foundation, and learned a little more about the Tricorder prize and what it's going to take to win it. "Ultimately," says the www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org page, "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." If the success of the Ansari X PRIZE is any indication, it's a rational goal -- and the competition will be exciting to follow as it cranks up.



Timothy Lord:
The X PRIZE Foundation’s next foray into outsourced incentivized competitions is taking place really in 2015. But, in fact, team selection has already started. That is something we’ve mentioned a few times in Slashdot already. It’s the Tricorder competition. The device is supposed to detect at least 15 specific diseases. The idea is to leverage a relatively small amount of prize money, even though it’s large in absolute terms, into a much much larger investment in R&D

Alan Zack: Hi, I am Alan Zack, Senior Director of Marketing for the X PRIZE Foundation.

Timothy Lord: Now the X PRIZE Foundation has been using financial prizes to generate some really interesting R&D, how does that work?

Alan Zack: Well, the X PRIZE Foundation creates incentivized competitions and we use the model where we know that the teams when they compete will actually spend more money collectively to win the competition than the prize itself. For example, our first prize was Ansari X PRIZE announced in 1997 and awarded in 2004. There were 24 teams that competed, that’s made collectively $100 million in R&D dollars to go after the competition. The team that won, SpaceShipOne was the craft and now that has been licensed to Richard Branson for Virgin Galactic and now it’s called SpaceShipTwo. The team won $10 million for that. But if you think about the model of $100 million in R&D dollars to go after a $10 million prize is incredible in terms of incentivizing innovation and really making stock market move forward.

Timothy Lord: And right now, one of your competitions is for the development of so called Tricorder. Can you explain basically what is that device?

Alan Zack: The Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE is funded by Qualcomm Foundation. And it’s a $10 million competition to really incentivize healthcare in the palm of your hands and it will be awarded in April of 2015 and currently we have 260 teams pre-registered for the competition. At CES last year, we actually announced the competition and we spent the last year in creating the guidelines and the structure in order to announce the competition which was actually this last Tuesday, Paul Jacobs had his keynote. So the guidelines are now available on our website, qualcommtricorderxprize.org as well as the registration is open to all teams around the world. And the 260 teams that are pre-registered are from 34 countries. So we truly believe that our competitions are global in scope.

Timothy Lord: So this Tricorder, the whole reason for making it is to in some ways make healthcare more efficient, can you talk about how will it do that?

Alan Zack: Absolutely. So the Tricorder actually to be successful for the team to win, have to successfully diagnose 15 human conditions and they are in our guidelines. I won’t go through them right now. But what’s exciting about that is there is not a device out there right now that can do that. So imagine if you went to find out if you have an ear infection or diabetes, this device will actually be able to detect that and tell you that you actually have that problem.

Timothy Lord: And the teams that you’ve got from all around the world, do they come from all kinds of background?

Alan Zack: Absolutely, that’s the beauty of our competitions. There is no one type of team that is set to win or to enter. We have individuals in garages that develop technology, we have universities and research labs, all the way to established companies that are listed in the stock markets.

Timothy Lord: So there are companies besides Qualcomm that have a bigger interest in this sort of device being successful?

Alan Zack: Well, true, but the sponsors do not own the IP after the competition is awarded, they are putting up the money really to spur the innovation. Now with Qualcomm Foundation specifically and Qualcomm they are in the healthcare space, they want to see innovation as Paul Jacobs as noted in his keynote. They would like to see this space really leap forward in a big way. And we think with the Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE that will incentivize the teams to develop the hardware and software to make that actually a reality.

Timothy Lord: Okay. And there’s a lot of work with sensors in general, that we see expanding. There is all kinds of from household to personal fitness, and companies are using sensors to try to measure all kinds of things. Are there specific ones that are the most important developments that are going to make the Tricorder a feasible idea?

Alan Zack: Absolutely, actually in this CES, one thing that was very clear is how sensing software is becoming more and more mainstream in many of the devices, and in our lifestyle, and so everything from medical to fitness sensing is looking to be incorporated to understand, one, how a human interacts with the device and also make a better life for the human by sensing their movements.

Timothy Lord: So, sometime after 2015 we’ll start seeing some prototypes and ideas that are made more physical?

Alan Zack: Absolutely. And with the Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE, which is sort of a sister competition to the Qualcomm Tricorder, we’re hoping that there is a collaboration between the teams, the teams that compete for this Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE most likely will work with the teams that are competing for the Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE and incorporate their software into the devices. Actually many teams are competing for both competitions.

Timothy Lord: And if somebody wants to learn more about either entering or just the parameters and they’re curious, how will they best find out about more of the X PRIZE competitions guidelines?

Alan Zack: There’s many ways, you can go to www.xprize.org, all of our competitions are listed on our homepage or you can go to each website’s competition. It’s the www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org, and the www.nokiasensingxchallenge.org websites for those competitions.

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CES: X PRIZE Could Make Star Trek-Style Tricorder a Reality (Video)

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  • by chispito (1870390) on Monday January 14, 2013 @02:34PM (#42583859)
    We have a newborn and I was a little frustrated how little data is obtained from a fetal ultrasound. Surely, with the right processing, a more accurate model could be constructed of a fetus/internal organs from these units? I don't think there's any way to fit an MRI or CT in the palm of your hand, but maybe a small ultrasound device?
    • I found the results of the ultrasound to by highly dependent on who the nurse. they look for gender, snap a couple shots and move you along. others spend time, take more pictures, and actually try to explain what your seeing. Ultimately, the imaging technology is there, its up to the person looking at it to understand what they are seeing.
    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      We have a newborn and I was a little frustrated how little data is obtained from a fetal ultrasound. Surely, with the right processing, a more accurate model could be constructed of a fetus/internal organs from these units? I don't think there's any way to fit an MRI or CT in the palm of your hand, but maybe a small ultrasound device?

      If you had to have a c-section and they didn't have to stick a needle into your uterus to obtain amniotic fluid to determine if the baby's lungs were mature enough, you can thank your ultrasound. It's original purpose was to enable a trained practitioner to tell what was going on inside you (whether in the womb, or the heart, or where ever it was being used). It was never intended to provide the resolution of an MRI or CT scan, nor would those scans be beneficial in most pregnancies, unless there was the

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      do you really want a 3d print of the fetus, like, REALLY? http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/8/3227461/3d-printing-fetus-japan-fasotec-hiroo-clinic [theverge.com]

      • the product is based on a digital model of the mother’s torso built from CT or MRI scans

        I hope it's not done using CT (that's ionizing radiation folks, just at the precise time in an organism's life when you don't want to be exposed to ionizing radiation).

        OTOH, maybe that explains, in part, the Japanese fascination for tentacle porn.

    • by claar (126368)

      Surely, with the right processing, a more accurate model could be constructed of a fetus/internal organs from these units?

      Definitely an interesting possibility for a Tricorder.

      3D ultrasounds are already being done, in real time. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_ultrasound [wikipedia.org] -- we had one of these done. It mathematically combines the 2D images into a 3D representation. Building a full 3D model (internal and out) of the fetus seems very plausible.

      While I found the 3D view extremely helpful (and it makes great printouts for the folks!), interestingly the ultrasound tech could "see" much better in the traditional 2D ultrasound vi

    • by houbou (1097327)
      The funny thing here is that while many would agree with you about your MRI statement, the same could be held true about cell phones, tablets, or lord knows what other inventions are out there. Always the same thing. It can't be done, and yet, eventually, they do get done, so, all you are doing is giving more fuel for those who will wholeheartedly want to prove you wrong. :)
      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        I assume you mean my statement, but no, it cannot and never will be done. The very nature of how MRI and CT scans work will keep them from being hand held. For them to work, the body part being scanned needs to fit inside the device because the transmitter (whether magnetic or radiation) and the receiver need to be opposite each other (think of a traditional x-ray, the film has to be opposite the radiation source). CT would also need radiation shielding. Finally, both will need some heavy duty computer pro

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Will CT and MRI machines continue to get smaller than the room sized equipment of yesterday, yes. But they cannot become handsized, but they will always have to be larger than what they are trying to image. It's a matter of physics.

          That's what they said about X-Ray machines. Now they have portable backscatter rigs.

          • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

            Will CT and MRI machines continue to get smaller than the room sized equipment of yesterday, yes. But they cannot become handsized, but they will always have to be larger than what they are trying to image. It's a matter of physics.

            That's what they said about X-Ray machines. Now they have portable backscatter rigs.

            A backscatter x-ray device is not the same as a medical x-ray machine. Backscatter x-ray is low dose x-ray to detect metal, it is not a high dose, concetrated burst to pass through skin to detect bones and particularly fractures in bones. I doubt you would want to hold that in your hand, but maybe you would.

            Just because it uses x-rays doesn't make it the same thing. I have a welding magnet on my workbench, but that doesn't mean I have a portable MRI machine.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              A backscatter x-ray device is not the same as a medical x-ray machine.

              That's what I said.

              Sooner or later, they will have medical backscatter X-Ray. They'll figure out signal processing or something to make it useful.

              • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

                A backscatter x-ray device is not the same as a medical x-ray machine.

                That's what I said.

                Sooner or later, they will have medical backscatter X-Ray. They'll figure out signal processing or something to make it useful.

                No, they won't. Just like a radar detector can use microwaves does not cook your food, nor does your microwave say how fast you are going, a backscatter x-ray cannot be used for medical imaging because the way it works is not precise, but relies on the x-rays bouncing around. There simply is not enough resolution at a dosage that would not be harmful. X-rays for medical use work like a camera. The x-ray is a focused beam, through a lens with the film or the ccd having to be at the correct focal length or

  • Only for health? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jandar (304267) on Monday January 14, 2013 @02:54PM (#42584089)

    The standard Tricorder from ST was a general-purpose analyzer. The medical variant wasn't the main type.

  • It seems the bio-bed would be the first step and much more practical. Once that was perfected, then a miniaturized (ie hand held) version would come along. Besides, at least for a bio-bed, you have to lie down on it. A tri-corder, somebody could scan you without your knowing (as evidence on several Star Trek episodes).

  • Any reason they make this so difficult to enter?

    "The Registration Fee is: between $5,000 and $25,000 USD, payable in U.S. Dollars only."

    http://www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org/files/qtxp.org/QTXP_Guidelines.pdf [qualcommtr...xprize.org]
    • by denzacar (181829)

      Probably to reduce the number of entries consisting only of a repackaged oximeter and a colorful video, going around and pillaging academic and other resources, taking up testing time and resources (they will need people with confirmed diagnoses to test the solutions on) and generally devaluing the reputation of the contest.

      Basically, if you can't jump on this when the registration is only $5000, or can't accumulate $25000 later - you're probably not a serious contestant but a cook with a "3kord-R" sticker

  • The Core Set includes:
    1. Anemia
    2. Urinary tract infection, lower
    3. Diabetes, type 2
    4. Atrial fibrillation
    5. Stroke
    6. Sleep apnea, obstructive
    7. Tuberculosis
    8. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    9. Pneumonia
    10. Otitis ("ear infection")
    11. Leukocytosis
    12. Hepatitis A
    13. Absence of conditions
  • Please, Lord, let me go through this! [youtube.com]

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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