X Prize Foundation announces US$10m prize for developing Star Trek Tricorder

16 January 2012

The X Prize Foundation and Qualcomm Foundation have launched the US$10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize to stimulate the development of a multipurpose consumer health diagnostics device.

Entrants will have to combine a range of technologies in areas such as sensors, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and wireless technology — much like the medical Tricorder of Star Trek fame — to produce a device that can make medical diagnoses independent of a healthcare professional or healthcare provider.

The goal of the competition is to drive development of devices that will give consumers access to their state of health in the palm of their hand. Readers of MTB Europe will already know that medical technology is advancing rapidly and handheld and miniaturised devices are appearing for many medical applications, from a blood pressure measurement sensor, to microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip, breath analysers etc. So it is more likely that a winner will come from a group of companies forming a team to combine their technologies into one device.

The announcement was made at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) during the keynote address of Qualcomm Incorporated Chairman and CEO and Qualcomm Foundation Chair, Dr. Paul Jacobs. Dr Peter H Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, joined Dr Jacobs on stage to introduce the competition.

“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,” said Dr Diamandis. “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 US$10 million top prize will be awarded to the team that develops a mobile platform that most accurately diagnoses a set of 15 diseases across 30 consumers in three days. Teams must also deliver this information in a way that provides a compelling consumer experience while capturing real time, critical health metrics such as blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature. The winning solutions will enable consumers in any location to quickly and
effectively assess health conditions, determine if they need professional help and answer the question, “What do I do next?” when it comes to their health.

“Health care today certainly falls far short of the vision portrayed in Star Trek. By sponsoring the Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE competition, the Qualcomm Foundation will stimulate the imaginations of entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and doctors to create wireless health services and technologies that improve lives, increase consumer access to healthcare and drive efficiencies in the healthcare system,” said Dr. Jacobs. “This competition will accelerate the development of tools that can empower consumers to take charge of their own bodies and manage their own care.”

The competition guidelines are still being developed — the complete 15 health conditions that have to be diagnosed are still unknown, but will include measurements such as temperature and blood pressure — and are expected to be announced later this year.

For more details see: www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org and www.xprize.org/

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