Special Reports

New Medical Device: The 'Star Trek' Tricorder Comes To Real Life [Video]


The all-purpose medical device from "Star Trek" has inspired inventors to realize its near-magic abilities. Otherwise known as the Tricorder, the gadget instantly and efficiently diagnoses a patient.

IFL Science reported that the non-profit XPrize Foundation was so eager to recreate the Tricorder that it organized a global competition to see if anyone would succeed. Fortunately, one team from Pennsylvania called the "Final Frontier Medical Devices" emerged victorious. In line with this, the winners have bagged a total of $2.5 million. The second placer, the Taiwan-based Dynamical Biomarkers Group, brought home $1 million.

Dubbed as the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition, its true purpose is to create a lightweight, non-invasive, handheld device that can identify up to 13 health conditions. In particular, it hopes to read 12 diseases and the very absence of sickness. What is more interesting is that the device can do it in just 90 minutes to 24 hours.

Final Frontier's prototype is called DxtER (pronounced as Dexter), per Space. In the process, five vital health metrics like heartbeat and respiratory function are constantly monitored. DxtER is an artificial intelligence that learns about emergency medicine.

In 2012, 10 teams out of 312 participating groups made the cut off. The competitors came from a sum of 38 countries. The two lucky and deserving finalists were announced just last December. Nonetheless, six groups were awarded at the prize-giving ceremony held in Los Angeles.

Brothers Dr. Basil Harris and George Harris were the minds behind DxtER. Basil is an emergency physician while George is a network engineer. Also, two of their other siblings participated by funding the entire project.

The team, as posted on the XPRIZE website, brings together expertise in medicine, surgery, programming, signal processing, hardware design, medical sensors, user experience design, health policy and mobile tech. Previous reports also say that the device works with with external sensors that collect information necessary for the diagnosis. These data will then be processed in the device's diagnostic engine to make a quick and accurate assessment.

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