Tech startup taking a stab at a real, working Star Trek tricorder

Tech startup Scanadu has created a medical diagnostic scanner that finally appears worthy of being called a medical tricorder. The device measures key vital signs and sends the information to your smartphone, and with additional screening questions it can then recommend whether an ER trip is necessary.

The Medical Tricorder (that's what the company is calling it) is capable of measuring blood pressure, pulmonary function, temperature and hopefully will be able to read simple samples. It's aimed at parents who want to monitor their children's health in order to make better decisions, and has captured enough interest that Scanadu has raised $2 million in funding after only one year in operation.

Scanadu's diagnostic scanner is being entered into the Tricorder X-Prize, a $10 million competition launched last May to develop mobile diagnostic technologies to put health information directly in the hands of "health consumers." The entrants will be up against a panel of doctors to see if they can match the doctors' diagnostic capabilities for a variety of diseases.

With their Medical Tricorder, Scanadu seems to have a decent shot at the prize. In fact the goal of the competition is actually their core philosophy, brought to life by the likes of Belgian futurist Walter De Brouwer, who co-founded Starlab in 1996. Fellow futurist Daniel Kraft, a physician-scientist who chairs the FutureMed program at Singularity University, joins him. Kraft presented at TED this June on the topic: "Medicine's Future? There's an app for that."

These guys clearly have their pulse on what is already fundamentally changing the medical community. Today's smartphones have apps to read glucose levels, check for STDs, and give doctors instant access to patient records and more. Earlier this year the FDA approved an app allowing doctors to view images from MRI, CT and PET scans on their iPad or iPhone. There are even virtual clinics allowing you can dial up a doc if you have questions about a medication or condition.

The question is, would Bones approve of being replaced by a dial-a-doc? Probably not. In any case at this stage the message seems to be these devices are designed to augment the medical experience and not replace the doctor entirely.

Just remember, even with his Tricorder Bones still had the power to confine that "hobgoblin" Spock to sick bay.

Via Singularity Hub

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