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Star Trek-Style Tricorder Can Give You A Medical Exam In 10 Seconds
May 26, 2013
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This is big news for fans of advances in medical technology... And also, yes, for fans of Star Trek.

The world's first working non-invasive medical tricorder, just like the ones used in the Star Trek universe, is here.

The Scanadu Scout is a scanner that can, within seconds, gather medical information about you and send your vitals to a smartphone, without piercing the skin or taking any samples.

In development for two years, the Scout monitors blood pressure, hemoglobin saturation, ECG, temperature and heart and breathing rates.

The company behind the Scout, a start-up based at NASA's Ames Research Park, asks on their website, "What if instead of fearing the worst, you could identify the condition yourself? Getting the right diagnosis would save you worry and an unnecessary doctor visit."

It also suggests that you will be able to "check your body as often as you check your email."

That might not be such a good thing for web addicts or hypochondriacs.

Walter de Brouwer, Chief Executive Officer, says in the company's corporate video that "we are in the biggest tsunami of personalization of information in the world, but with medicine, we are still waiting in line in an emergency room."

He says the Scout will allow people to "see the fingerprint of your health in very minute detail."

The company suggests the device could potentially decrease hospital readmission rates, and lower the costs of managing chronic conditions for patients and insurance companies.

Scanadu's chief medical officer Dr. Alan Greene says the device enables a patient to connect with a physician in ways never possible before: "You just hold it to your forehead and in a minute you have all of [the data]".


Holding a device to your forehead. It's as simple as that.

As the writer Arthur C Clarke put it, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," and such machinery was previously only the stuff of science fiction (see the one pictured here, from the movie 'Star Trek: Insurrection')

On the original Star Trek series, "Bones" McCoy, the Enterprise's trusty physician, had a tricoder "sensor probe," which was in reality a salt shaker the low-budget production crew had fashioned into a prop.

He'd wave the gizmo over the patient (often one of the nameless red-shirted Enterprise security staff who'd inevitably end up dead), and get an instantaneous readout of vital signs.

Other companies have gotten into the tricorder space as well.

Sano Intelligence is working on a patch that could make drawing blood a thing of the past, with a patch that uses electrochemical sensors to measure levels of various chemicals in the blood, like those quantified by a basic metabolic panel.

Scanadu has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo, and the Scout prototype is pending approval by the US FDA.

The ultimate goal is to market the Scout as an over-the-counter consumer-grade tool, but until it receives FDA approval, it will only be made available to early adopters like those who support the IndieGoGo campaign.

Who knows? Maybe a physical visit to a doctor's office will eventually become a thing of the past.

Via Inhabitat


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