BOSTON – Sponsors of the XPrize put out a hailing frequency to engineers at DESIGN East, calling for them to invent an all-in-one medical gadget like the tricorder from the sci-fi TV series Star Trek. Two competitors on a panel discussion said they are preparing to beam down such a product soon.
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The foundation is offering $10 million to whoever can create such a product as part of its Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize. Its related Nokia Sensing XChallenge will award $2.25 million to whomever can create low cost, real time sensors for such a device. Registration extends through January for the three-year competition.
“We think three years about the right time given we have teams in various states--some have solutions already well developed and some are starting from scratch,” said Mark Winter, senior director of the projects at the XPrize Foundation (Playa Vista, Calif.).
Winners of the tricorder challenge need to show a handheld consumer device that can measure at least five vital signs and provide information on at least 12 health conditions. The XPrize Foundation will judge entries using both consumer response and clinical trials.
“The goals are to stimulate the next round of development and reward the pioneers of a 1.0 device,” said Winter.
More than 260 teams have already signed up for the tricorder prize and 65 have entered the sensor challenge. Winter expects more than 200 teams will sign up for the sensor race, spanning university research groups to major corporate R&D labs. “We have a wide range of interest across the board,” he said
Entrants may need to disclose intellectual property used in their entries, but they retain full ownership of the IP, he said.
“The tricorder prize is a nice adjunct to our journey,” said Anita Goel, chief executive of Nanobiosym (Cambridge, Mass.) that has been working on Gene-Radar, a portable device that can detect genetic fingerprints.
“We have some of the dedicated components to create [Gene-Radar], and can help build the ecosystem,” said Goel whose company is working on both disposable and reusable lab-on-a-chip devices. “The prize creates a focus point for the industry,”