If you hate getting poked and prodded for a medical exam, you’re not alone. I’ve always been envious of the crew on Star Trek; they made it look so easy as Dr. Crusher waved a tricorder over her patients for an instantaneous exam. The tricorder is like a medical diagnostic magic wand; it was assumed to be fictional, until now. The Cloud DX is the first prototype to be revealed for the Tricorder XPrize competition. The device is designed to diagnose 15 different medical conditions and can monitor vital signs for 72 hours.
Cloud DX has four components. It uses a collar with an attached earpiece which communicates with a base station. More futuristic components are the universal diagnostic stick (USD) and a combination scanning wand. (The USD and combination scanning wand are not pictures, as the photo is from a previous design.) First, the collar and ear piece measure blood pressure, respiration, ECG, pulse, blood oxygen saturation, and body temperature. The collar and earpiece were originally developed to be a fitness tracker, so they can count calories ands steps too.
The base station uses a smartphone or tablet as a display and relays data to be analyzed. The USD is designed to diagnose diabetes, tuberculosis, and pneumonia among others. It can take a finger-prick to draw blood, and blood samples can be tested directly by the base station. The combination scanning wand uses a camera to examine the skin, and includes a built-in otoscope for ear examinations and a spirometer to measure exhaled breath.
Portability and versatility create many potential applications for the Cloud DX. It could be used in rural areas and third-world countries or to quickly assess patients after a natural disaster. A variety of tricorders from other companies is also in the works as they compete in the Tricorder XPrize for $10 million USD. We can expect news from the other contestants June 1st, 2015, when they turn in their projects. It will be interesting to see which aspects of science fiction influence medicine as the tricorders