A tiny company from Mississauga, Ont., has made the final cut of companies competing to make a science fiction dream a reality and win the $10-million Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize.
CloudDX is among 10 finalists for the 3-1/2-year-old prize, which aims to develop a consumer-focused, mobile device capable of diagnosing and interpreting a set of 15 medical conditions and capturing five vital health metrics.
Picture the gizmo from Star Trek, where doctors would wave a wireless contraption over a sick person and the machine could instantly diagnose what's wrong with them, non-invasively. That's what companies competing for the prize are trying to create.
"As we move to the final stage of this process, we are one step closer to putting health care in the palm of your hand," said Grant Campany, senior director of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize.
Measuring vital signs
The 10 finalists (and employees involved), in alphabetical order, are:
- Aezon (Rockville, Md.), led by Tatiana Rypinski, a team of student engineers from Johns Hopkins University partnering with the Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design.
- CloudDX (Mississauga, Canada), a team from medical devices manufacturer Biosign and led by company chief medical officer, Dr. Sonny Kohli.
- Danvantri (Chennai, India), a team from technology manufacturer American Megatrends India and led by director and CEO Sridharan Mani.
- DMI (Cambridge, Mass.), 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.
- Dynamical Biomarkers Group (Zhongli City, Taiwan), a team of physicians, scientists and engineers led by Harvard Medical School Prof. Chung-Kang Peng.
- Final Frontier Medical Devices (Paoli, Pa.), a team led by the founders of Basil Leaf Technologies—brothers Dr. Basil Harris, an emergency room physician, and George Harris, a network engineer.
- MESI Simplifying diagnostics (Ljubljana, Slovenia), a team from diagnostic medical device manufacturer MESI and led by CEO, Jakob Susteric.
- SCANADU (Moffett Field, Calif.), a team from Silicon Valley-based startup SCANADU led by technology entrepreneur, and co-founder and CEO, Walter De Brouwer.
- SCANurse (London, England), a team from diagnostic medical manufacturer SCANurse and led by biomedical engineer and founder Anil Vaidya.
- zensor (Belfast, Ireland), a team from clinical sensor and electrode company Intelesens and led by the chief technology officer, Prof. Jim McLaughlin.
Kohli, a critical-care physician, says the inspiration for the device stemmed from his experiences volunteering as a doctor in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010.
"A Tricorder-type device [is] something that's mobile, something you can carry with you ... you can take to disaster relief zones or villages or your grandma's house," Kohli says in a video on the contest website. "It's shocking to me that is hasn't been done."
The company already has a device known as a Pulse Wave that goes around the wrist and is able to monitor vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate and various arrhythmias easily, constantly and painlessly. The Tricorder prototype that emerges could prove to be similar to that.
CloudDX made the final cut after a panel of judges reviewed their entry based on safety issues, user experience and a health assessment. Among 21 entries, CloudDX was deemed credible and worthy enough to move on.
Teams will now compete in both diagnostic experience evaluations and consumer testing for their prototypes, which is slated to happen late next year. The final judging and awards ceremony will take place in early 2016.
Up to three winners will ultimately share the $10 million.