$10million prize offered to design a Star Trek tricorder

An article written in 1900 has recently been discovered. In it, a number of predictions were made of what technologies might be available and in use in 2000 (tinyurl.com/7dosz7n).

The predictions are quite interesting, with successes including digital colour photography, mobile phones, television and, broadly, the internet. That's pretty good from the starting point of an era typified by the horse and cart where electricity was something of a novelty.

Since the mid 1960s, the various Star Trek series have made equally bold predictions about how technology may develop – even if they were demonstrated using the technology of the day.

One device which has been a constant through all Star Trek series is the tricorder. Now, the X Prize Foundation, along with Qualcomm, is offering a $10million prize to the person who can build such a device.

There are, of course, conditions. The winning design will be a mobile platform that most accurately diagnoses a set of 15 diseases across 30 consumers in three days. The device must capture such variables as blood pressure and temperature, while displaying data in a 'compelling' way. The design should also help the user to assess health conditions, determine if they need professional help and answer the question 'what do I do next?'.

Interested? If you are, you have about two years to get your design finalised. More at www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org.

Once you've done that, there's the Star Trek communicator; the voice operated badge sized device capable of providing location and communication services over long distances. And not forgetting the transporter...

Graham Pitcher

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