Star Trek fans will remember that Dr. “Bones” McCoy had a nifty little device at his disposal. Just by waving the non-contact device over a patient’s body, he was able to identify and diagnose all manner of injuries and ailments. While this device was the creation of the fertile minds of science fiction writers, it has not stopped people from making it become a reality.
One incentive to drive this research was the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition. With $10 million at stake, teams from around the world have working for the past five years to create a portable device weighing five pounds or less. The entries were required to diagnose ten core conditions, including anemia, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and sleep apnea. The device also had to measure five standard vital signs: blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, and temperature.
The winning device is the DxtER from Basil Leaf Technologies, which earned the $2.5 million First Prize. According to the company website, the device’s capabilities far exceed the XPRIZE requirements. The system has algorithms that can diagnose 34 different health conditions in all, and relies on a collection of non-invasive sensors that collect different types of data. The sensors can also function independently of the DxtER system. The company is working to develop the system into a consumer product that will provide quick and accurate health assessments at home.