The 10 Finalist Teams have until the middle of next year to transform their proposals into working prototypes of handheld diagnostic devices capable of monitoring vital signs and diagnosing diseases.
The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize was launched in 2012 to challenge innovators to create handheld, portable and wireless gadgets inspired by the fictional tricorder medical scanner it was named after. More than 300 submissions were accepted. The pool was later trimmed down to 21 official teams. Now, it is down to just 10 Finalists vying for the $10 million prize, and the chance to turn Star Trek fiction into digital health reality.
The finalists run the gamut from university students and researchers to biotech startups to established medical device companies. Teams come from the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. They now have until May next year, when the first device trial commences, to build their prototype devices that are deemed safe enough by safety engineers to be tested on a pilot group of patients in a medical center.
The goal is to build a lightweight, portable, handheld, non-invasive device that is not only capable of monitoring at least 5 vital health metrics, but also diagnose 15 conditions or diseases, including anemia, diabetes and tuberculosis. These devices are envisioned to be used by consumers with little or no training at all, putting them directly in-charge of their health.
The 10 Finalist Teams: (with technologies they developed that they may use in their new X Prize device)
* Aezon (Maryland), led by Tatiana Rypinski, a team of student engineers from Johns Hopkins University partnering with the Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design. (Four-part solution: vitals monitoring unit, lab box, smartphone app, and cloud API)
* CloudDX (Canada), a team from medical devices manufacturer Biosign and led by company chief medical officer, Dr. Sonny Kohli. (Pulsewave health monitoring technology)
* Danvantri (India), a team from technology manufacturer American Megatrends India and led by company Director and CEO, Sridharan Mani. (AMI Vitals Fit)
* DMI (Massachussetts.), a team led by Dr. Eugene Y. Chan of the DNA Medicine Institute partnering with NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. ( rHEALTH Sensor)
* Dynamical Biomarkers Group (Taiwan), a team of physicians, scientists and engineers led by Harvard Medical School professor Chung-Kang Peng. (Various diagnostic research projects)
* Final Frontier Medical Devices (Pennsylvania), a team led by the founders of Basil Leaf Technologies—brothers Dr. Basil Harris, an emergency room physician, and George Harris, a network engineer. (DxtER™ portable diagnostic device)
* MESI Simplifying diagnostics (Slovenia), a team from diagnostic medical device manufacturer MESI and led by company CEO, Jakob Susteric. (Bracelet and mobile app monitor temperature, ECG and SpO2)
* SCANADU (California), a team from Silicon Valley-based start-up SCANADU led by technology entrepreneur and company co-founder and CEO, Walter De Brouwer. (Handheld vital signs scanner)
* SCANurse (England), a team from diagnostic medical manufacturer SCANurse and led by biomedical engineer and company founder, Anil Vaidya. (Device using breath, movement and visual analysis)
* zensor (Ireland), a team from clinical sensor and electrode company Intelesens and led by chief technology officer, Prof. Jim McLaughlin. (Health monitor that records ECG, heart rate, respiration rate and motion)
“The technologies being created for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE can have an exponential, global impact, not only on remotely diagnosing diseases, but on a myriad of other medical areas, including continuous health monitoring, disease prevention and chronic disease management,” Rick Valencia, Sr. Vice President & General Manager, Qualcomm Life, said in a statement. “It will certainly be exciting to see these devices materialize as we move closer to the competition’s end.”
The non-profit X Prize Foundation organizes and awards prizes for breakthroughs that benefit humanity in five different areas (energy and environment, global development, exploration, learning, and life sciences).
Referring to the affiliated Nokia Sensing X Prize competition in 2013, Dr. Erik Viirre, the technical and medical director for the foundation, believes all the finalists in the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize are likely to attract investors willing to further develop their prototypes long after the competition has ended.
“I was at the Nokia finals last year, and literally the same day that the prize winners were announced, investors were going in and talking to the competitors and making investments,” Dr. Erik Viirre, technical and medical director for X Prize, told MobiHealthNews. “And I know that’s happening not only for the finalists, but other competitors, just because of the visibility that comes from being an X Prize competitor. So I am very confident we’ll see plenty of technology.”
Portable diagnostic devices, and health monitoring sensors and wearables like the ones being developed by the X Prize finalists can make their biggest impact on developing countries and resource-poor settings, both the finalists and competition organizers believe.