By Norbert Herzog and David Niesel
Many people may soon have a piece of “Star Trek” sitting at home in their own medicine cabinets. It’s not a Captain Kirk costume, Spock ears or a model of the Starship Enterprise, but a real-life tricorder.
When “Star Trek” began in 1967, the character Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy used this medical device in his work. Now, the Scanadu company has brought this fictional tool to life and called it the Scout.
To use it, a person holds the round, palm-sized tricorder to his or her temple, and it measures temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation and stress level and performs an electrocardiogram.
It does all this with optical sensors in 10 seconds with 99 percent accuracy. It sends the readings via Bluetooth to a smartphone, where apps track and analyze the data.
To raise capital for producing the Scout, Scanadu listed its project on the crowd sourcing website Indiegogo, where people could pledge money to pre-order the tricorder for March 2014. They had a monthlong campaign goal of $100,000 but raised $1.66 million.
Those who buy the first round of Scout tricorders will have the option to be part of clinical studies, which will be presented to the Food and Drug Administration in order for the Scout to be approved as an over-the-counter diagnostic tool.
That means this device is simple to use and accurately monitors important indicators of a person’s health. It can also be pointed at others, such as a child, to quickly gather all that data about them, making it a potentially valuable tool in a health care setting. The device uses a 32-bit Micrium platform, the same real-time operation system used by NASA on its Curiosity Rover on Mars.
In fact, the Scanadu device was originally intended for NASA astronauts to monitor important health indexes while in space. Scanadu is one of the teams competing for the $10 million Qualcomm Foundation X-Prize, which challenges technology and medical innovators to develop a real-life mobile tricorder that can diagnose 15 diseases without any poking or prodding.
Medical Discovery News
Professors Norbert Herzog and David Niesel are biomedical scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Learn more at medicaldiscoverynews.com.