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Medicine Software Science Hardware Technology

Scientists Win $2.6 Million For Star Trek Tricorder Device (vocativ.com) 44

The Qualcomm Foundation, along with the XPRIZE Foundation, "announced the winning team of its nearly four-year-long global competition to develop a functional, easily usable tricorder," reports Vocativ. The Pennsylvania-based Final Frontier Medical Devices team was the first place winner, receiving the top prize of $2.6 million, while Boston-based Dynamical Biomarkers nabbed $1 million. From the report: Led by Dr. Basil Harris, a Philadelphia emergency room physician, the team was mostly made out of family and friends Harris coaxed into volunteering their free time on the weekend. By contrast, Dynamical Biomarkers had 50 scientists and programmers, mostly paid, and was sponsored by the Taiwanese government and Taiwan-based cellphone company HTC. The device kit developed by Final Frontier, called DxtER, uses non-invasive sensors that collect data from the user and combines that with an AI frontloaded with information in the field of clinical emergency medicine to come with a diagnosis. The device currently operates on an iPad tablet, but future versions should work equally fine on a smartphone as well. The device, ideally, would allow patients to then send their readings to their doctors so they could collaborate on their health care. According to an interview Harris held with the Washington Post, DxtER can diagnose up to 34 medical conditions in its present design. The device developed by Dynamical Biomarkers could reach up to 50, team leader and Harvard Medical School professor Chung-Kang Peng, told the Post, given it surpasses the five-pound weight limit imposed by the competition guidelines.
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Scientists Win $2.6 Million For Star Trek Tricorder Device

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  • Medical tricorder (Score:3, Informative)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @03:18AM (#54238825) Homepage Journal

    The competition appears to be for a medical tricorder.

    (There are legitimate science tricorder [hackaday.io] projects as well.)

    Fifty-ish medical conditions is a very good start, and I can only imagine that adding more and different sensors will allow such a system to discriminate between more conditions in the future (do these devices ask for human input of symptoms or history?).

    Of course, we could never get these approved for use in the USA - the 3.8 million noted in the article would only be a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of certification. If a single drug costs $2.5 billion [fool.com] for certification (and hearing aids cost $5000 and up), imagine how much it would cost to certify an autodoc for 50 diseases!

    But this should work quite well in developing countries.

    • by PsyMan ( 2702529 )
      I think it would work quite well in any country where healthcare is seen as a basic human right not a privilage. More importantly though, I will put up a prize fund of $10 for a fully functional holodeck that can be retrofitted to my 12' x 12' garden shed as I want to try out a new Dixon Hill program.
    • Fairly certain that drugs cost money to certify because they can harm the taker. A piece of software used in medical based calculations would not even need to be certified.

      • You don't think that if it misdiagnosed a condition and the patient was given the wrong treatment it might harm them? These devices will definitely have to be certified but once they are shown to work the first couple should have an easy time finding funding because overworked machines don't make mistakes. The insurance companies in the US will insist that they be used. When you come in for your appointment or to the ER instead of taking the vitals like they do now they will just use this. The basic mea

        • I think the actual diagnosis part will either have to be stripped or just considered raw data that a doctor can use to come to a diagnosis.
          As it stands now we do not have any certification program to allow anything to make medical diagnosis other than a medical doctor degree, and this tricorder would never pass the exams.

          • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

            As it stands now we do not have any certification program to allow anything to make medical diagnosis other than a medical doctor degree

            That is not true. We do indeed have such a certification program. I write software that must pass such certification. Here's a brief overview of how this happens:

            Suppose you urinate in a cup, and send that sample to a lab, and the lab personnel put that sample it into a Qiagen Symphony, or a BD Viper XTR, or a Roche Cobas; Or suppose you go to Walgreens and the employee with no degree whatsoever sticks a swap up your nose, and inserts the swab into a BD Veritor. In both cases, the medical instrument dia

      • 23andMe was banned [huffingtonpost.com] from producing health analysis reports by the FDA in 2013, and recently was finally approved [gizmodo.com] to release certain health reports after a lengthy, expensive process.

        Yes, a device such as a medical tricorder would certainly have to be certified by the FDA in the US.

      • That was true until 2012. Then, there was this giant scam [wikipedia.org] caused the FDA to start getting involved in software startup diagnostics.

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        As someone who writes such software for the medical industry, I can attest that it most definitely needs to be certified. The two main areas of concern are misdiagnosis and misassociation of data (industry term for mixing-up patient results). A false negative result could kill someone since they either get no treatment or delayed treatment. A false positive results in incorrect or unnecessary treatment. Mixing up results causes both, potentially en masse.

    • Re:Medical tricorder (Score:5, Informative)

      by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @10:46AM (#54239771)

      If a single drug costs $2.5 billion for certification

      That would be a very different world.

      You are misreading an article that was misrestating research. First, half that value just imputed from the long time between patent and approval - this was greatly exacerbated by drug companies moving to filing patents very early in the R&D cycle. In other words, $1.2B was actually just lost profits some guy thought companies should have. But, really you could just as easily claim that limited patents, instead of longer ones cost $1.2B. What it really implies is that most drug research is so uninovative that its a race to the patent office. That's a good thing for everyone. For the $1.4B of development and testing cost, with most of the money going to testing early on.

      And, for fun, your anti-FDA point falls down, as this was a worldwide survey.

  • Vital Technologies of Bolton, Ontario, Canada went out of business trying to market their educational model, which had pressure, temperature, EM, and colour sensors.

    In the lab, they were working on assembling one that could listen to your heartbeat and extract useful data from your body's electrical fields from a distance of a few feet.

  • Scanning a planets atmosphere for breathability and detecting life signs? yes, but not whether someone was sick or not.

    That was actually the job of the little spinning doohicky that Dr. McCoy had.

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