In the Star Trek universe, handheld medical tricorders became standard issue for Starfleet vessels as early as the mid-22nd century.
Here in a little place we like to call “reality,” a competition seeks to help deliver such all-in-one health analyzers at least 100 years ahead of schedule. After more than 300 prospective entrants for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE expressed interest in the competition, organizers on Tuesday willunveil the 34 teams competing for the $10 million prize.
The vast majority—21 teams—hail from the U.S. The U.K. and Canada are represented by three teams apiece, with the rest coming from Greece, India, Poland, Slovenia, South Korea, Taiwan and The Netherlands.
Perhaps the best-known entry is Scanadu, a startup based at NASA-Ames Research Park. The company introduced its Scout monitor a year ago and plans to deliver it to the market by early 2014 for about $150. Scanadu is designing Scout to measure temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and other vital signs after being placed on a patient’s temple for 10 seconds. Most of the other entrants aren’t nearly as far along in terms of development or even making information about their ideas available to the public.
Each group is developing a mobile device weighing five pounds or less that can diagnose and interpret 15 different medical condition—including diabetes, atrial fibrillation, stroke and tuberculosis—as well as capture a range of vital health metrics, including blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature.