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Handhelds Science Technology

$10M Tricorder X PRIZE Kicks off 111

Back in May, we heard about Qualcomm's plans to hammer out details for an X PRIZE competition to invent a Star Trek-style tricorder. Now, reader Sven-Erik sends word that the requirements have been finalized and the competition has launched. "As envisioned for this competition, the device will be a tool capable of capturing key health metrics and diagnosing a set of 15 diseases. Metrics for health 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 states through a combination of wireless sensors, imaging technologies, and portable, non-invasive laboratory replacements. 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."
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$10M Tricorder X PRIZE Kicks off

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  • Cellphones (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) * on Thursday January 12, 2012 @01:40PM (#38675632) Homepage Journal
    Why dedicated tricorders if you have cellphones? Carrying an "intelligent" device with a lot of "awareness" already (accelerometers, magnetometers, gps, etc), adding them a few more that take existing input (i.e. measuring elements in breath when you are answering a call, or from your hand when you are holding it) should not be that hard. The key here is more to make compact enough sensors to that kind of use. Of course, you can have also devices on your body taking measurements and communicating with the phone by bluetooth too.
  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Thursday January 12, 2012 @02:01PM (#38675922) Homepage

    Wikipedia's article on Noninvasive glucose monitor [wikipedia.org]:

    Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in companies who have sought the solution to this long-standing problem, and the search has been peppered with false starts, premature announcements of success and outright chicanery on the part of some investigators. However, most of the researchers in this field have been genuinely interested in helping those with diabetes find a less painful and more convenient way to measure their blood glucose.

    Approaches that have been tried include near infrared spectroscopy (measuring glucose through the skin using light of slightly longer wavelengths than the visible region), transdermal measurement (attempting to pull glucose through the skin using either chemicals, electricity or ultrasound), measuring the amount that polarized light is rotated by glucose in the front chamber of the eye (containing the "aqueous humor"), and many others.

    And that's just one parameter. A useful tricorder would cost billions of dollars to make, not just $10 million.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @02:12PM (#38676084)

    Asking people what's wrong with them isn't exactly an unbiased way of finding out what's really wrong with them. Their knowledge is full of errors (as it's reliant upon their memory, which is severely flawed), and they may not even feel things that are wrong with them. We need a way of doing a star trek-style scan of them to find out what's really wrong with them, instead of wasting time with their hypochondriacal problems.

    As for taking someone's weight, you really think that asking people what they weigh is an accurate way of getting that information? I guess surgical centers should just take out their high-precision scales (used to get the patient weight right before surgery so the anesthesiologist can calculate the correct dosage so they don't kill the patient), and just ask the people what they weigh instead!! If a patient's home scale is off by 10%, or they don't want to admit to themselves that they're really 200 pounds and instead say they're 160, that'll be OK, right?

    Even family medical history isn't very good data. A patient may be adopted, or a patient may not realize that the person who he believes is his father actually isn't (studies have shown that something like 10-15% of people were fathered by someone else; i.e., the mother had an affair and never told anyone). So the patient might be worried because all his relatives on his "father's" side have some condition and thinks he'll have it too, but he's actually not biologically related.

    With semiconductor-based DNA scanning right over the horizon, yes, we should be working to build an MRI, centrifuge, and DNA lab into a five-pound box, and not waste time trying to make an accurate diagnosis with someone saying "my leg hurts!".

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