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Handhelds Medicine Sci-Fi The Almighty Buck Science

Invent the Medical Tricorder, Win $10,000,000 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-life-jim-but-not-as-we-know-it dept.
GeneralSecretary writes "If you've ever watched Star Trek and said, 'Hey, I could build that,' now's your chance. Qualcomm and the X PRIZE Foundation have teamed together to offer ten million US dollars to whomever can invent 'a mobile solution that can diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians.' They call it the Tricorder X PRIZE. Hopefully the Tricorder will join the cell phone, MRI, and tablet computer in the list of Star Trek devices that are now part of our lives."
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Invent the Medical Tricorder, Win $10,000,000

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  • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:37PM (#36122914)

    Can't we start out with just one doctor?

    • by MoldySpore (1280634) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:47PM (#36122982)
      There is already a device that can diagnose you as well as 1 doctor. It's called a Magic 8-Ball.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well doc, give it to me straight, what have I got.

        Signs point to yes

        What?

        yes

        So i've got yes?

        My sources say no

        Is that a good thing?

        no

      • by skylerweaver (997332) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:31PM (#36124194)
        Actually, I find it interesting you used the Magic-8-Ball. While it is just a toy, the 20Q toy (which is somewhat similar in my mind) is very interesting because it tries to guess what you are thinking of by asking you yes/no/sometimes/don't-know questions. The neural net was then built by people playing the game and providing 'better questions' for when the AI got the answer wrong.

        Could you not do the same for medical diagnosis?

        [Do you have a headache?]
        "No."
        [Does your stomach hurt?]
        "Yes."
        [You have an ulcer?]
        "No."
        [What's wrong, and what would have been a better question?]
        "Food poisoning, and 'Did you eat uncooked meat recently?'"
        [Noted. Now I am smarter.]

        It seems that you could make a diagnosis engine that as you rule things out it could come to as good a conclusion as a typical doctor.
        • Medical expert systems exist and often outperform individual doctors. Usually they are used to support human decision making and not to replace it. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_decision_support_system [wikipedia.org].

        • by RichiH (749257)

          > Could you not do the same for medical diagnosis?

          No, because sometimes, asking does not cut it.

          > [You have an ulcer?]

          Let me cut myself open and see as I don't have a tube handy!

        • by Kz (4332)

          The neural net was then built by people playing the game and providing 'better questions' for when the AI got the answer wrong.

          nitpicking: it's not a neural net, it's a decision tree.

    • by billcopc (196330)

      As the Demotivator goes:

      "None of us is as dumb as all of us."

    • This has already been done by an Australian. It's a micro-lab basically. It was on a TV show called The New Inventors where inventions are showcased.

      Maybe if they learnt to use a decent search engine they'd have found this:

      http://www.lifescientist.com.au/article/309857/handheld_lab_receives_innovic_gong/ [lifescientist.com.au]

      and this:

      http://www.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/txt/s2669552.htm [abc.net.au]

      Looks like an Aussie gets the $10m.

      • by juancn (596002)

        This has already been done by an Australian. It's a micro-lab basically. It was on a TV show called The New Inventors where inventions are showcased.

        Maybe if they learnt to use a decent search engine they'd have found this:

        http://www.lifescientist.com.au/article/309857/handheld_lab_receives_innovic_gong/ [lifescientist.com.au]

        and this:

        http://www.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/txt/s2669552.htm [abc.net.au]

        Looks like an Aussie gets the $10m.

        Actually the thing you refer to still needs a doctor to make a diagnosis. The X-prize asks for the device to make the diagnosis, this includes analyzing all symptoms, not just running a few tests.

        • Which is obnoxious to all the geeks in the audience, who realise that there is absolutely no medical tool in Star Trek (excepting perhaps the EMH) that goes beyond elaborate sensory interpretation—we always see the doctors pointing to displays of evidence for a disease or disorder, never a printout of diagnoses. [Popular Hollywood] science fiction never dreamt of this madness!
        • They are asking for a tricorder like device to diagnose "better than a panel of board certified physicians".

          First, one doctor or nurse (yes, this can be used by a nurse that is trained) is not a "panel". Secondly, a tricorder required a doctor to make sense of the diagnosis in Star Trek, thus why Dr McCoy was needed. Otherwise they wouldn't need a ship's doctor or even a medical bay.

          Aside from this, MycroLab can be used by a non-physician. As the inventor, Micah Atkin, says "my invention supplies fast, accu

          • a tricorder required a doctor to make sense of the diagnosis in Star Trek, thus why Dr McCoy was needed

            The tricorder made the diagnosis. Dr. McCoy was needed to add snarky comments and general indignation to the diagnosis read from the tricorder.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      They do seem to be coming at this from a funny direction-- replacing a doctor with a electronic frob will tend to greatly increase complexity for most kinds of examinations. To do something as simple as clearing a belly, for example, you can either invent a tricorder with some kind of low-grade tomography or sonogram imaging, or you can train a nurse who can do it in five seconds with superior quality. What the world probably needs a lot more than a tricorder is armies of people with a week of training, p

      • I claim this prize, as I have invented a remote rectal probe controlled like an R/C car. It can't diagnose anything, but it's a hell of a lot of fun fooling drunk people.
  • by suso (153703) * on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:38PM (#36122922) Homepage Journal

    So for only $10 millions dollars you can buy a device that is worth billions. Yeah right.

    • it is about the prestige... not the ROI.

      Do you really think Space Ship 1 was designed and built for less than 10 million?

      • $25M (est.) which is three orders of magnitude closer than the value of this medical device technology relative to the payout.
      • by c6gunner (950153)

        it is about the prestige... not the ROI.

        Yeah, because inventing a FRIGGIN TRICORDER wouldn't be prestigious enough on it's own. Probably wouldn't even make the 5th page of the local paper.

    • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:43PM (#36123382) Journal

      I don't believe the tricorders as presented in varies incarnation of Star Trek TV shows/movies are actually capable of diagnosing any ailment; each device is merely a collection of high precision sensors. The physician holding the device is the one that is making the diagnoses base on the data presented by the device.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234)
        Which makes me wonder if what the prize is after is just symptoms -> diagnosis recommendation, the ultimate miniaturized diagnostic equipment machine, or both. The winning criteria sounds like diagnosis alone, where the rest of the article talks about all the wireless sensors, networking, etc.
    • So for only $10 millions dollars you can buy a device that is worth billions. Yeah right.

      What are the rules of the contest? Is there any language that says you can't file patents for your invention -- or parts of it -- before submitting? $10 million would be a nice chunk of seed capital.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    https://market.android.com/details?id=org.hermit.tricorder&feature=search_result

  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:44PM (#36122962) Homepage
    "...you talk like a fag, and your shit's all retarded!"
  • by TheSync (5291) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:45PM (#36122968) Journal

    Have an iPad point to http://easydiagnosis.com/ [easydiagnosis.com]

    Medical expert systems already diagnose better than human doctors. What they can't do is figure out the best way to bill your insurance. That requires real intelligence.

    • I think they want something that can do scanning of vitals and make the diagnosis based on the information gathered, not "manually enter a list of data and see what I have to say".

      A system that scans means you do not have to be a trained clinician to capture vitals (perhaps even signs that are not part of today's standard instrumentation) and diagnose.

    • Re:Done (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alcourt (198386) on Friday May 13, 2011 @10:39PM (#36124238)

      Just for fun, I tried out that tool. I plugged in the symptoms I had when I cracked a rib. When I went to the doctor, the nurse diagnosed me before I even got to the exam room based just on watching me walk and hearing where the pain was. The software didn't even begin to ask the right questions, and assigned a 94% probability of something completely unrelated.

      I also tried plugging in the symptoms I had a number of years back before I realized I had asthma. It's diagnosis was for several possibilities, none better than 24%.
      However, a trained doctor, hearing me cough just once immediately recognized it as an asthma specific cough pattern.

      So no, I wouldn't trust that tool over common sense, not even close.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      ...Medical expert systems already diagnose better than human doctors. What they can't do is figure out the best way to bill your insurance. That requires real intelligence.

      Yeah, you're right. Guess they haven't quite perfected the "insurance claim fraud" algorithm in AI yet.

  • Figure out how to create a device that can detect common STDs and determine if the person constantly sneezing, has allergies or ebola, and you will be immensely rich.
    I have no idea if sneezing is a symptom of Ebola, I was trying to make a point.
    • Re:Simplify (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Krater76 (810350) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:52PM (#36123044) Journal

      Figure out how to create a device that can detect common STDs and determine if the person constantly sneezing, has allergies or ebola, and you will be immensely rich. I have no idea if sneezing is a symptom of Ebola, I was trying to make a point.

      I think the bleeding from all of your orifices might rule out allergies.

      • I think the bleeding from all of your orifices might rule out allergies.

        Yes, but it still leaves open the possibility you're listening to a Justin Beiber album.

      • Yes, in all seriousness --- come up with a device that can instantly diagnose a bacterial or viral infection (specifically: is this swine flu, bird flu, or a cold) and you'll save a hell of a lot of lives when a pandemic comes round.

        Even if it only works with a tiny number of pre-determined pathogens, that would be huge.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          That would only work for blood-borne pathogens. If the infection is stuck somewhere in your body, and not circulating in your blood, it wouldn't work, such as most fungal infections.

          Still, since most infections do make it to the blood, a device that detects them in a blood sample would be a huge help over what we have now, which is pathetically poor technology that requires us to take multiple samples, then send them to a lab somewhere for analysis that takes hours or days.

  • ... that sounds and looks like a Tricorder or something that actually works?

    "and behind this little panel is where we put the Altarian Nanocat for Cat Scans..."

  • That's a rather subjective winning criteria... I've met *many* "panels of doctors" that are no better than an iPad.
  • Difficult (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:50PM (#36123020)

    You'd need...

    Broken bones: something that bounces off bone and can detect the time to travel which will determine fractures and breaks. If you're using a flat scanning device, everything needs to bounce off something inside the body, rather than pass through and imprint itself on x-ray paper, etc.

    Diseases: Lasers can tell blood type now (I think)...might be you could fine tune it to detect anything from genes to bacteria.

    Muscle and ligament tears: same deal as bone I suppose -- would need to reflect off of a certain type of material.

    Internal bleeding: scan for pools of blood versus the normal trails of blood (veins, arteries, capillaries)

    My only question is why we need 4 different devices (MRI, pad, phone, tricorder)...I'd fully expect this to have solar-rechargeable batteries and a form factor that can fit in my back pocket (which would require a wide-angle "lens" for the probes so it doesn't take you 20 minutes to scan someone). And I darn well better hear the "wee-ooo, wee-ooo" sound without having to put on headphones!

    • by peragrin (659227)

      Check out the GE Vscan. A handheld ultra sound machine with built in display.

      The real trick will be modifying the sensor head so that it can pick up variations, and simplifying the interface for identifying problem areas.

      Then you just need a portable blood sampling device.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, the trick is understanding that different imaging modalities give different, and incomplete, pictures. The current level of technology in imaging currently precludes any sort of device like this. Decent MRI scanners still fill an entire room, ultrasound scanners with good resolution still take a trolley that has to be wheeled, not carried. X-rays don't bounce, they penetrate or are absorbed, so would need a two-part system (and a lead apron for the user). No one of these modalities will cover every

        • Re:Difficult (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:48PM (#36123414) Homepage

          No, the trick is understanding that different imaging modalities give different, and incomplete, pictures. The current level of technology in imaging currently precludes any sort of device like this. Decent MRI scanners still fill an entire room, ultrasound scanners with good resolution still take a trolley that has to be wheeled, not carried. X-rays don't bounce, they penetrate or are absorbed, so would need a two-part system (and a lead apron for the user). No one of these modalities will cover every possible diagnosis (for instance, ultrasound is good for abdomens, but useless for brains except in babies). I'm not saying that a 'medical tricorder' will never be possible, but at the moment there is no way to miniaturise and combine all those different technologies into one device. Something like the GE Vscan is amazing, but that sort of device would be for crude imaging, like am I going to hit the artery with this introducer, is there fluid around the heart, is there a fetal heartbeat present. You'd be crazy to use a handheld scanner for detailed imaging and diagnosis.

          That's correct - with the OTHER caveat is that interpreting the data is hard. Which is why we make radiologists sit in darkened rooms all day and night and it takes about 10 years to grow one.

          There are limited areas where computer analysis has helped humans interpret radiological data (ie mammograms) but they aren't all good and typically just help out with the part of the analysis that humans are terrible at (looking at large quantities of boring data) rather than figuring out things on their own.

          • X-rays don't bounce, they penetrate or are absorbed, so would need a two-part system (and a lead apron for the user).

            Hold on. If x-rays either penetrate or are absorbed why does the user need a lead apron? Why can't they just stand behind the machine and be safe?

      • Re:Difficult (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday May 13, 2011 @08:53PM (#36123774)

        At a previous company we worked on hand held ultrasound before GE (and the thing in their commercials looks suspiciously like a prototype/patents we had so I may send off some emails to see what's up with that). Went away from that design since it was a bit bulky and inconvenient since there were a lot of electronics added to the transducer. Instead a portable hand carry device instead that has enough room to get top of the line image quality, but it can also be docked to a full size cart. People really want the hand held stuff for emergency rooms or disasters but not for day to day use. I think the biggest selling points were image quality and low cost and the portability was a "just in case we need it" afterthought.

        But then this is just ultrasound. That doesn't give you a full range of stuff you need to know. It isn't good at detecting cracked bones, it won't handle cranial problems, some types of tissues it won't distinguish very well, it requires good training to use it well, etc. You'll need more than one type of modality. You can shrink down ultrasound but you won't have such luck with MRI. Then when you're done you still need to be good at diagnostics and you're going to need a human for that; ie is that lump part of a spleen or is it a tumor, is that a lesion or a shadow, is the liver missing or am I just holding it wrong? Computer imaging just isn't that good yet, and when the imaging does get that good then you need the AI part to determine what the image means.

        The "everything all in one device" is pure fiction. You're going to need multiple devices to gather the data, and then you upload it all to a big computer to analyze. The problem is that all this stuff exists in a hospital but what you need these smaller devices for is for when you're not at a hospital and you may not even have network connectivity.

    • by blincoln (592401)

      "Broken bones: something that bounces off bone and can detect the time to travel which will determine fractures and breaks. If you're using a flat scanning device, everything needs to bounce off something inside the body, rather than pass through and imprint itself on x-ray paper, etc."

      I'm thinking it would be a challenge - at best - to find something other than X-rays that will pass through skin but not bone. Why not just add a "medical tricorder"-style hand gadget that emits X-rays, put that on one side o

      • by lymond01 (314120)

        Why not just add a "medical tricorder"-style hand gadget that emits X-rays, put that on one side of the area to be imaged, and the "tricorder" (which would act as the digital X-ray "film" plate) on the other?

        That'd be like carrying around a pager AND a cell phone. Who's going to want to do that? :-)

        You just need something that sends out a wavelength that will:

        1) Penetrate fat and muscle (and all the things that constitute those)
        2) Does not penetrate bone
        3) Has enough backscatter (reflection) in an

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Pass through skin but not bone... Hmm... How about sound or magnetism? Wait, we already have that in ultrasound and MRI!

        And x-rays are not safe for common use. You don't actually need a portable device for detecting broken bones. Does the arm hurt badly? Yes, so you splint or immobilize it and get the patient to a real hospital then you move to the next patient. The portable devices would be used for triage use and emergencies. There's little use in the field for determining if there is actually a h

    • What about a diagnostic flowchart together with a bag of simple tools.

      Is the patient X? If yes, click here, else click here.

      Is the patient Y? If yes, click here, else click here.

      This wouldn't be great, and I know there is alot of practice and skill in determining exactly what X and Y look like, but it would be better than nothing. Heck, I'd buy one just to have in case of 'TSHTF and there are no doctors'.

      Like a Chiltons for the human body. ( Ok, by anyone else but Chiltons - Have you ever tried to unde

  • can it set up a subsonic vibration that will resonate with a rock wall and cause it crumble? (That would truly complete my G2.)
  • When I think of this kind of thing, I get the impression we're trying to solve the wrong problem. Would it make more sense to develop chips and systems that could be embedded _inside_ people? That way they could continuously monitor the person (somehow) and a 'tricorder' would simply extract data out of the systems inside the person

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      Would it make more sense to develop chips and systems that could be embedded _inside_ people?

      No, because of allergies.

  • Old Joke (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:56PM (#36123072) Homepage Journal

    One day Bill complained to his friend that his elbow really hurt. His friend suggested that he go to a computer at the drug store that can diagnose anything quicker and cheaper than a doctor.

    ''Simply put in a sample of your urine and the computer will diagnose your problem and tell you what you can do about it. It only costs $10." Bill figured he had nothing to lose, so he filled a jar with a urine sample and went to the drug store. Finding the computer, he poured in the sample and deposited the $10. The computer started making some noise and various lights started flashing. After a brief pause out popped a small slip of paper on which was printed: "You have tennis elbow. Soak your arm in warm water. Avoid heavy lifting. It will be better in two weeks."

    Later that evening while thinking how amazing this new technology was and how it would change medical science forever, he began to wonder if this machine could be fooled. He mixed together some tap water, a stool sample from his dog and urine samples from his wife and daughter. To top it off, he masturbated into the concoction. He went back to the drug store, located the machine, poured in the sample and deposited the $10. The computer again made the usual noise and printed out the following message:

    "Your tap water is too hard. Get a water softener. Your dog has worms. Get him vitamins. Your daughter is using cocaine. Put her in a rehabilitation clinic. Your wife is pregnant with twin girls. They aren't yours. Get a lawyer. And if you don't stop jerking off, your tennis elbow will never get better."

    * Cribbed from some dumb site [jokes.com]

  • by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:57PM (#36123084) Homepage Journal

    Every molecule has a unique absorption frequency. So long as you can identify what absorbption bands are present - very very accurately - you're 99% of the way there. The other 1% requires you to create a catalog of such frequencies by scanning pure samples of pathogens.

    A second approach would require nanotech and would be extremely slow. Basically, the idea would be to build a device that mimics the cell's mechanism for reading DNA strands and to maintain some sort of internal state that acted in the manner of a cryptographic hash. Once it has calculated the hash, you'd need some way of reading the value. Not sure how you'd do that part, or how you'd even retrieve the device. But again you're getting a value and hunting through a dictionary to see if it is present. If it is, the pathogen is there. If it isn't, it isn't.

    • Every molecule has a unique absorption frequency. So long as you can identify what absorbption bands are present - very very accurately - you're 99% of the way there. The other 1% requires you to create a catalog of such frequencies by scanning pure samples of pathogens.

      Huh? What kind of "absorption frequency" are we talking about here? IR spectroscopy (doesn't work well in complex samples), NMR (ditto), UV (ditto). Taking a human body and disassembling it into component molecules would give you 1) and enormous amount of static data that wouldn't help you much in a living organism 2) a pissed off sample, er, patient and 3) a big mess.

      Problems in biology are rarely as simple as the presence or absence of something. It's how things interact.

      A second approach would require nanotech and would be extremely slow. Basically, the idea would be to build a device that mimics the cell's mechanism for reading DNA strands and to maintain some sort of internal state that acted in the manner of a cryptographic hash. Once it has calculated the hash, you'd need some way of reading the value. Not sure how you'd do that part, or how you'd even retrieve the device. But again you're getting a value and hunting through a dictionary to see if it is present. If it is, the pathogen is there. If it isn't, it isn't.

      Again, you seem to think th

    • by pz (113803)

      Every molecule has a unique absorption frequency. So long as you can identify what absorbption bands are present - very very accurately - you're 99% of the way there.

      I worked on a system like this for determining the concentrations of various pollutants in an exhaust stream from industrial smoke stacks. Even though we work only looking for a very small handful of gasses, it was a very hard problem and our solution never really worked very well.

      It suffered because of the problem that while every molecule has a unique spectrum of absorption frequencies (saying it is only one frequency is highly over-simplified), unless you have molecules in near isolation (ie, in highly

      • by jd (1658)

        Good, an intelligent reply. Those're getting rarer these days.

        It is a very hard problem, though it's a very common technique in optical and radio astronomy for determining the gasses in a remote planetary atmosphere. Mind you, you're talking serious compute power and serious observatories. It's unlikely your system, for example, could boast a sensor the size of the Lovell radio telescope.

        It's not entirely correct to say that the problem is intractible - there will be a finite dictionary that you need to loo

        • by Rutulian (171771)

          I like your enthusiasm, but I think you are really overestimating the feasibility of your approach. How exactly do you "IR for a long, complex chain molecule", as you replied to another poster (hint, there are millions of them in biological systems)? The point he was making is that all of the common spectroscopy techniques are useless: IR, NMR, and UV/Vis. Even a short pure DNA strand can't be sequenced with IR, NMR, or UV/Vis...that is, unless someone invents a miraculous way to deconvolute the spectrum. I

          • by jd (1658)

            Oh, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's "feasible", merely that you're limited in remote sensing. To determine if a technique works, you start by assuming it will and then work along that chain until you either meet a contradiction (proving that the technique won't work) or have a successful implementation. So, to test whether a tricorder is, indeed, a possibility you start by assuming that a tricorder could exist in principle, deduce what must automatically follow (remote sensing relies on radiation of som

            • by Rutulian (171771)

              Ok, fair enough, you are right. I see what you are arguing for. You can't prove it is theoretically impossible to do what you are describing. However, I like to think of progress in science, and in particular the success of projects like this, as proceeding in two ways. The first is the revolutionary approach, where completely new and groundbreaking ways of doing things are discovered, or made economical. The second is constrained by practical considerations, and therefore takes a more incremental approach.

              • by jd (1658)

                I absolutely agree with you regarding the incremental approach vs revolution thing. A portable lab, combining the best techniques for developing cultures, the best compact microscope, and even the best in rapid DNA analysis (although the rapid systems are not that accurate yet) since all you need is a centrifuge, a few ezymes (one to multiply the DNA, one to chop the strands into bits) and some relatively compact kit for reading the DNA fragments. There may be a few other bits and pieces you'd want, too, bu

  • perspective (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:59PM (#36123096) Journal

    1. Star Trek had radio telephones, not "cell phones" - they've been around since before WW2: dumb tool leaving the thinking to humans;

    2. The Styalator tablet input device was produced in 1957: dumb tool leaving the thinking to humans;

    3. The MRI was fairly recent, but PET (and Star Trek didn't distinguish) applied to medical imaging was discussed by Sweet and Brownell in 1953: dumb tool leaving the thinking to humans;

    4. The tricorder could be considered a combination of imaging, sensors and an expert system: attempt to replace human judgement with AI.

    Unsurprisingly, one of these things is glaringly missing from everyday modern life.

    • they tried but they couldn't get the bleep bleep sounds just right
    • Star Trek's communicators functioned far more like cell phones than old military radiotelephones. They were personal devices that everyone kept on them all the time, and could be used to contact other individuals at will who also wore them, without respect to distance. Sound like anything we all carry these days?

      Also, the engineer at Motorola who helped pioneer them claimed to be inspired by Star Trek's communicators.

      The Styalator tablet has nothing to do with the Star Trek PADDs that people are comparing m

      • Re cellphones: they are so called because they use a network of cells, which is precisely what you don't get when you're visiting other planets. Instead you get the single base station - the ship - and perhaps peer-to-peer, IOW classical radiotelephone.

        Re Styalator: Well, yes, until the advent of LCD in the late '60s, merging tablet and screen was going to be a problem. The Dynabook, contemporary with Star Trek, was the realisable conceptual equivalent.

        Re the expert system: they're already available in the

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        Star Trek's communicators functioned far more like cell phones than old military radiotelephones. They were personal devices that everyone kept on them all the time, and could be used to contact other individuals at will who also wore them, without respect to distance. Sound like anything we all carry these days?

        They look vaguely like cell phones. They operate like walkie talkies. Cell phones require a network of cells to work. Communicators, like walkie talkies, can directly contact other units. Cell phones are useless on alien planets (unless Doctor Who has jailbroken it for you.)

        • No, you and the other poster are being silly overly pedantic geeks. The point is how the devices operate to end users. From the perspective of a viewer, a communicator let someone specify who they'd like to speak to and that happened through some process behind the scenes. Cell phones do just that. Radiophones do not. The details of how it works technologically aren't what matters, it is the details to the user that do.

          For that matter, you've no idea how communicators on Star Trek work, it is never specifie

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            Look, you got it wrong and now you're playing the "overly pedantic geek" card. Radiotelephones to a base station allowed you to specify who you could speak to. In early days it was a human operator who physically patched you through, but hey, "it is never specified" how it happened on Star Trek and maybe Uhuru had a massive switchboard that we just never saw. Or maybe each communicator had a speech recognition unit to set peer frequency based on name.

            Star Trek communicators did not routinely work like cell

  • its called the dxbox and has been around for a couple of years. google it. I sure dont see gates turning over rights for a mere $10 million though, that's pocket change.
  • I can see figuring out a way to diagnose specific diseases, but all of them? And that's in top of needing to actually invent a handheld device capable of grabbing all that data in the first place.

  • Now's your chance? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:09PM (#36123166)

    If you've ever watched Star Trek and said, 'Hey, I could build that,' then why the fuck haven't you?

  • Couple some sort of microfluidic sensor with ultrasonic holography and couple that to a online database and you pretty much have a medical tricorder.

    • Don't you have to reverse the tachyon pulse phase to get it to work right?
      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Image quality won't matter much either since you can always just say "enhance" a few times until it's good enough.

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Umm no. I'm being serious and discussing tech that exists today, just not in a small portable device format, yet. But if they can be miniaturized, then there is our tricorder.

  • Unfortunately due to lawsuits (wait for it) the only people allowed to use such a device will end up being trained medical doctors and army medics.
  • According to most comments to this story [slashdot.org], all it takes is that somebody patents a medical tricorder - then it wiil have been bloody obvious to anyone how to build one before the patent application was made.
  • I don't just want it to tell me what's wrong. I want it to show me cool images inside my body like this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry3w6fbT7rY&feature=related

  • it says... organism incomplete.

  • No, I guess I couldn't invent it. But I'm willing to bet I could patent it, and then sue whoever does actually invent it later. God Bless America!

  • Who'd have thought a simple LCD screen with two buttons would have won?

    Is Earth is overpopulated?
    <Yes> - I recommend euthanization of patient.
    <No> - Let's keep it that way by euthanizing the patient.

  • "a $10 million prize to develop a mobile solution that can diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians"

    Maybe it could also help them with their phrasing. So it only has to diagnose patients who are equal (in some unspecified way) to a panel of board certified physicians? Or, wait, does it have to identify those patients who *are* better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians? How does one diagnose a patient anyway? I'm so confused!

    May I suggest "a $10 mill

  • In this age of silly patents do I really have to do all the hard work of inventing it or patenting it would be good enough?
  • The payroll for the people you'd need to employ to design this, let alone build it, would be in the millions per annum at a minimum.

    Medical experts in each field, electrical engineers, programmers, testers...

    How is $10 million meant to be an incentive?

    For a real-world example, Space Ship One cost Rutan ( actual Paul Allen ) around $25 million to develop and won then a $1 million prize. Whoopeee.

  • Vital Technologies Corporation in Canada (now defunct), created the Mark 1 tricorder. As to a medical scanner, who knows. Probably the same mindset and group-think that lambasted Pons and Fleischman for their failed room temperature fusion(?) experiment, did them in.
    Considering that a little box could replace some engineers, I can understand why the medical profession would not like competition that wasn't subject to peer review pressure. It doesn't make any sense to create a box that prescribes Marijauana
  • The problem with this sort of contest is not the equipment or the engineers creating the hardware and software.

    The problem is doctors. Doctors, as a rule, when it comes to testing their medical knowledge are fucking liars.

    When you show 10 doctors the same MRI, they'll almost invariably give you 10 different answers. If you're EXTREMELY lucky, one of them will speak up and say 'I dont know', but what you're more likely to get is all 10 of them making up bullshit if they can't see a problem.

    The end result i

Man must shape his tools lest they shape him. -- Arthur R. Miller

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