$10 Million Prize To Make Science Fiction Fact

Star Trek Tricorder

First Posted: 12/01/12 14:13 Updated: 12/01/12 17:48

There's $10 million up for grabs for the inventor can make science fiction become fact.

The multi-million dollar Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, announced at CES in Las Vegas, will be awarded to the inventor who brings to life the handheld Star Trek tricorder handheld healthcare device.

Qualcomm and the X Foundation said: "One of the indispensable tools for all of the doctors in the Star Trek universe is the tricorder - a handheld device equipped with sensors that allowed Doctors to noninvasively scan their patients, providing instant results on blood characteristics, vital signs, and other tests that can can take hours or days today."

During Qualcomm's CES keynote speech, Dr. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation said: "There is a dire need to improve access to healthcare globally and provide consumers with an opportunity to be active participants in their own health. The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize will incent the creation of technologies that can empower the consumer with the ability to decide when, where and how to seek health information and care."

The prize winner will be the group who can develop a mobile platform that "most accurately diagnoses a set of 15 diseases across 30 consumers in three days".

The winning design will have a compelling user experience, and must capture health metrics like blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature.

Much like the Tricorder, the winning device will be able to scan a patient's vitals and help them to assess their condition and instantly determine if they need help from a healthcare professional.

Bev Collin, Health Policy and Practice Advisor with Médecins Sans Frontières said: "For MSF, in the medical work that we do, case detection and diagnostics are critical to getting patients on treatment and cured, but it is often the biggest bottleneck too.

"Local health workers use rapid diagnostic tests for malaria and HIV, of screening tools for anaemia and of mobile ultrasound devices to detect potential complications in pregnant women. Currently MSF is advocating for better rapid diagnostic tests for tuberculosis - the geneXpert is considered a very good start. Without incentives like prize funds to encourage such initiatives, it not only takes longer - it sometimes never happens."

Unlike many science fiction fans who wish the far-out things they see on screen were real (Seven of Nine, anyone?), the two organisations have the money to make their dreams come true. X Foundation's sponsors and founders include Shell, Qualcomm, Google, Cisco and Medco.

The Hive mind is already here, in the guise of the world wide web. Other science fiction inventions that would be mighty handy in real life include the Jetson's car, the Star Wars Hover Bike, The Force, and the Star Wars speed-o-bike. What science fiction gadgets do you wish could become fact?


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Filed by Melanie Hick  |