Hebrews 5:12-14 (KJV) "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
Proverbs 27:17 (KJV) "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
As they boldly went where no one has gone before, the crews of the USS Enterprise often found that it was extremely useful to have a small device that could diagnose any ailment just by waving it near a person or alien—the tricorder.
This futuristic gadget, much like the tablet computer, voice-controlled machines, and faster-than-light travel, have fascinated generations of science-fiction fans. But while we finally have tablets and some voice assistants that aren’t entirely terrible, most of the fantastical technology in the original Star Trek series still remains elusive to us.
But a competition is underway to create the tricorder, and it’s now in its final stages. XPrize, the nonprofit that ran the competition to get the first privately funded spaceship off the ground, and the chip manufacturer Qualcomm are promising $9 million for the team that creates a device that could diagnose 13 ailments and measure five vital signs at once. It’s less ambitious than Star Trek’s tricorder, but it would still be world-changing if anyone could pull it off.
As well as working to diagnose ailments, the competition requires that these devices be easy to use, as the aim is to eventually sell or give them to the public to use for health monitoring—just as one might use a Fitbit or other health monitor to track one’s heart rate and steps.
Today the organizers announced that two groups of researchers have reached the final of the competition, and one—or possibly both of them—will be awarded the $9 million in prize money in 2017. There were originally 40 teams that entered the competition, which started in 2012, and a team of industry judges whittled those down to just two, XPrize told Quartz.
One group is led by Basil Harris, an ER doctor with an engineering doctorate, and the other by Chung-Kang Peng, a doctor and professor at Harvard Medical School. Both have come up with a solution that essentially relies on a mobile device and Bluetooth-enabled peripherals to measure all sorts of bodily functions with simple tests that anyone who knows how to use a smartphone should be able to conduct themselves.
Harris’s system comprises a series of 3D-printed devices that pair with an iPad Mini. The devices come with a large one-page sheet of information on how to use each item, rather like an Ikea manual for personal healthcare. Harris told Quartz that he was inspired to put his past engineering passions to use, teaming up with his brother, sister, and friends to design and build the devices in their spare time.
Peng’s team is a group of US and Taiwanese scientists, and was sponsored by the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer HTC. The group produced a box that contains a modified HTC smartphone, a series of sensors that connect to the phone over Bluetooth, and various things to poke and prod yourself with, including blood-glucose and urine test modules. The box actually charges all the devices, and a single USB cable charges the box. (One of rules of the XPrize competition was that the system had to be able to monitor a patient’s vital signs for 24 hours, and much like a pair of Apple AirPods or Snap Spectacles, the devices charge through their box.)
Both devices use videos through their mobile devices to explain how each device works—along with printed-out notes and signs—so that theoretically any person could use the machines without any medical training.
THERE'S HOPE - MARANATHA!
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