A prize of $1 million is being offered for the best version of a functioning tricorder.
Fans of the Back to the Future trilogy of films will tell you they are still waiting for their hoverboard.
Science fiction fans from the mid-1900s will tell you they are disappointed more people don’t travel via jetpack.
Futuristic science fiction stories attempt to predict what life will be like in the future, and then readers or viewers wait for those predictions to come true. But now there is an effort to bring to reality one of the most iconic symbols of the Star Trek television series: the tricorder.
Used by Dr. Leonard “Bones’’ McCoy and other medical personnel in the original Star Trek TV series, the tricorder is used to diagnose all possible medical issues by simply waving the electronic device over the body of the patient.
Thanks to Qualcomm, 10 different sets of technicians are competing against each other to come up with the closest version of the functioning tri-corder in order to win a cash prize. The inventors of the top three tricorder models will split a $10 million award.
“We’re asking teams to put together an aggregation of technologies that’s never been done before,’’ said contest technical and medical director Dr. Erik Viirre. “We’re spurring things to market faster, better and cheaper.”
The contest is being operated by X Prize, a nonprofit organization that attempts to advance technology through competition. There were originally 41 different teams willing to chase the prize, and those were whittled down to 10. The finalists have until April 2015 to create a working prototype that can be used in consumer tests.
What they are being asked to do is come up with a device that weighs less than five pounds, can monitor five vital signs and can detect 15 medical conditions. It should allow users to measure their own heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate. Among the medical conditions the tri-order models must measure are sleep apnea, pneumonia, anemia, and diabetes.
The finalist teams are required to produce 30 working models of the prototype to be given to consumers who have one of the maladies the device is supposed to detect. Prize X is working closely with the Food and Drug Administration to help propel its winning designs through the regulatory compliance process.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.