Qualcomm Tricorder

After 2 years and more than 300 submissions vying for the $10 million prize, 21 official teams were shortlisted; and then there were 10.

The 10 finalists for the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize were recently announced.

Encompassing a wide spectrum of backgrounds and cultures, the finalists include graduate students to researchers to biotech start-ups, and even well established players in the medical devices space. They also hail from different parts of the world – Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.

For the uninitiated, the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize is a global competition aimed at revolutionizing digital healthcare. Through the innovation and integration of diagnostic technologies, the end goal is a handheld diagnostic consumer device (a la the fictional “tricorder” of Star Trek fame) that can diagnose 15 common conditions such as diabetes, anemia, stroke, and monitor vital health metrics such as blood pressure, heart rate, temperature.

While the backend of the device will comprise of sophisticated and precision diagnostic technology, the frontend will need to be as user-friendly as possible so that the layman will be able to seamlessly make reliable health diagnoses on the go and on-demand – basically, putting healthcare in the palm of the consumer. Needless to say, aspects such as consumer safety and regulatory compliance are part of the requirements.

The finalist teams will have until May 2015 where their working prototypes will be subjected to safety, diagnostic experience evaluations and consumer testing. The final decision will made in January 2016 – to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.

Given the vast net of expertise in these teams, the various output promises to be an interesting mesh-up of technologies, design, engineering, and biomedical science. Some teams like Aezon and DMI have also struck up strategic partnerships with heavyweights such as NASA, the National Institute of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Center for Bioengineering, Innovation and Design.

Check out the full list of the 10 finalist teams here.

As Rick Valencia, the Senior VP and General Manager of Qualcomm Life states,” The technologies being created for the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize can have an exponential, global impact, not only on remotely diagnosing diseases, but on a myriad of other medical areas, including continuous health monitoring, disease prevention and chronic disease management.”

I couldn’t agree more and am more than eager to see these ideas materialize into working prototypes – and possibly taking us that step closer to turn 23rd century science fiction into a 21st century medical reality.

On that note, what with the recent unveiling of the Apple Watch, and Samsung and Sony eagerly preceding their bitter rival’s announcement with a separate array of new devices and gadgets, the wearable market is on fire.  In this fast evolving landscape of wearable technology, the notion of future health – where health care data can be tracked and analyzed across devices, apps and platforms to provide any one with a contextual, actionable and holistic view of his or her health and wellness – does not seem so far away anymore.



Leave a Reply