Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE: Healthcare in the palm of your hand

A new $10 million X PRIZE: a self-contained medical diagnostic device. What shall we call it? Hmm… Tricorder has a nice ring to it! Seekerblog is a big fan of science prizes as a vehicle for kick-starting R&D. When a science prize works (think DARPA Grand Challenge), all of us enjoy a public good which was developed by private investment. Even the prize is privately funded. We hope this X PRIZE is a big success.

You can follow progress of the prize competition at The Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE Blog.

It’s 3 a.m. Your child is crying and screaming about an earache that has gotten progressively worse all day. Her temperature has been steadily rising and is now at 103°. What do you do now? Head to the hospital? Take her to a pediatrician? Get some Advil and wait it out? But would that interfere with a medication that she might get later at the ER or Urgent Care?

By the way, she is still crying while you are trying to figure this out.

Imagine an alternate universe, one where you take a small sample of her saliva and insert it into an attached sensor on your smartphone. There it gets analyzed, and – bing – on your 3×5-inch screen, it reassures you by telling you:

“Sadie has another ear infection. Please give her some Ibuprofen, because she may react to the aspirin like she did last time this happened in August. The nearest Walgreen’s is two blocks away, and has a prescription filled for a topical antibiotic that should begin to address symptoms within three hours. Her pediatrician has an appointment available tomorrow at 3 p.m. Would you like me to schedule you for this time?”

The Tricorder X PRIZE FAQ is a good source of background information on the competition goals and rules.

The Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE is a $10 million global competition where teams will compete to develop solutions capable of diagnosing a set of 15 conditions and capturing metrics for health. Conditions include common ailments and costly diseases, and range from strep throat to sleep apnea to colon cancer. Ultimately, this tool will measure and individual’s health state through a plethora of wireless sensors, imaging technologies, and portable, non-invasive laboratory replacements. Ongoing measurement will enable collection of large volumes of data, enabling powerful computer algorithms combined with artificial intelligence to see patterns of sickness and health not previously possible.