ByRoddybw, writer at
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Monday phone calls to the boss explaining your unfortunate absence from work with an exaggerated cough and sniffle could be a thing of the past thanks to this self-diagnosing device inspired by Star Trek's, Tricorder. "Oh that's no good — send my your Tricorder results."

The real-life Tricorder is called the DxtER, and was developed as part of an international competition called the XPrize. The competition launched back in 2012 with a total prize pool of $10 million by the Qualcomm Foundation, who required the following specific requirements. From the competition website:

The winning team will develop a Tricorder device that will accurately diagnose 13 health conditions (12 diseases and the absence of conditions) and capture five real-time health vital signs, independent of a health care worker or facility, and in a way that provides a compelling consumer experience.

When Science Fiction Becomes Reality

Developed by Final Frontier Medical Devices, a team of US-based brothers and sisters, their winning, do-it-yourself, DxtER prototype amazingly is close to the diagnose prerequisite of 13 health conditions.

Our winning teams have taken humanity one step closer to realizing Gene Roddenberry’s 23rd century sci-fi vision by exceeding the competition requirements for user experience and nearly meeting the challenging benchmarks of diagnosing 13 disease states.

How Does The DxtER Work?

[Credit: Final Frontier Medical Devices]
[Credit: Final Frontier Medical Devices]

The DxtER is an artificial intelligence-based engine that uses sensors to assess and measure a patient's vital signs, body chemistry and biological functions. By collecting this baseline data, it formulates a logical diagnose using its AI to reference data analysis from actual clinical patient databases, including family history.

This information is then synthesized in the device’s diagnostic engine to make a quick and accurate assessment..

Three specific health conditions it can diagnose straight of the box are: Pertussis (whooping cough), Mononucleosis and Hypertension.

The DxtER is also capable of monitoring five key health vital signs as part of the competition:

  • Blood Pressure
  • Heart Rate
  • Oxygen Saturation
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Temperature

In second place, pocketing a respectable $1 million, was Dynamical Biomarkers Group with their DeepQKit. Their version of the Tricorder pairs diagnostic algorithms with analytical methodology in a user-friendly device, all controlled through a smartphone. Both were declared the overall winners out of the 300 entries in the competition.

The 23rd Century Sci-Fi Seems Closer

[Credit: Qualcomm Foundation: XPrize]
[Credit: Qualcomm Foundation: XPrize]

Building upon the competition win, both the DxtER and DeepQKit will continue to receive support in their development to be an industry and (hopefully) real-life retail product.

Specifically, the post-competition initiatives announced included:

The Qualcomm Foundation has committed $3.8 million towards promotion of the digital health ecosystem, including the continuation of consumer testing, guidance for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE teams, and support for further development of Tricorder devices. Specifically, the Foundation has requested a proposal for a $2.5 million grant to the University of California, San Diego, including the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute. The balance of the commitment will be distributed to other organizations.

The ability to one day complete a quick medical scan at home does sound appealing. No one really enjoys sitting in doctors' waiting rooms with old celebrity magazines to pass the time. As advances in products like these grow, with serious funding support behind them, who knows how soon life will be imitating Treky art with our own Star Trek Tricorder ready to go, packed somewhere under the kitchen sink.

What other Star Trek devices do you want in your life right now? Sound off in the comments below.


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