Back in June, 2011, StarTrek.com reported that, inspired in large part by Star Trek, the not-for-profit organization X PRIZE Foundation and communications giant Qualcomm planned to launch a contest that would ultimately bestow $10 million upon anyone or any team that could develop a practical, lightweight, mobile, real-world version of Star Trek’s fictional tricorder that everyday folks could use at home, without the presence of a doctor or health care provider, to evaluate health issues. Well, the time is now, as it was announced earlier this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that phase one of the contest has officially kicked off.
“I’m probably the first guy who’s here in Vegas,” said X Prize Foundation chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis, “who would be happy to lose $10 million.”
It remains to be seen if anyone – a doctor, scientist, entrepreneur, engineer, or some combination thereof — can actually create a device worthy of such an otherworldly bounty, as it would be a daunting challenge to meet the contest’s requirements, among them that the tricorder condense all the necessary technology into a single gadget that weighs no more than five pounds and that is capable of registering key health metrics and diagnosing a set of 15 diseases (yet to be named, as final details won’t be ready until September).
Still, just as Star Trek spurred the contest, the contest is intended to spur the transformation of healthcare via integrated diagnostic technology.
“The tricorder that was used by Spock and Bones inspires a vision of what healthcare will look like in the future,” Diamandis stated to the audience at CES, according to BBC News and other media outlets. “It will be wireless, mobile and minimally or non-invasive. It may use digital imaging. It may be sequencing your DNA on the spot to tell you if you are allergic to something you just ate.”
The good news for those venturing to create a Star Trek-style tricorder?
“We don’t,” Diamandis noted, “have a requirement that it make the same noise.”