The technology is currently about 85 per cent accurate when compared to standard physician diagnoses.
Here’s one example
Remember the medical tricorder? The all-in-one portable device that can accurately diagnose anything? Well, it sits somewhere in that spectrum. Medical tech has certainly gone smaller and more accurate, but we’ve yet to design a handheld diagnostic panacea. That could, however, change soon.
Back in 2012, the microchip company Qualcomm started the Tricorder XPRIZE Competition, which challenged inventors and engineers to create a device weighing less than five pounds that could accurately diagnose a fixed set of 13 health conditions (as well as continuously monitor five vital signs). Of the devices submitted, only two made it through to the final round. The final two will now be going through a few rigorous consumer tests. The winner will receive a final prize of $6 million.
The two finalists, Dynamical Biomarkers Group and Final Frontier Medical Devices, both designed multiple tiny devices that come packed into a single, portable carrier.
Dynamical Biomarkers Group designed a group of tiny devices that can fit in a portable case. While the medical tricorder seen in Star Trek is a single, handheld device, the one in our immediate future might be more analogous to a high-tech version of an old-school doctor’s bag. Dynamical Biomarkers’ prototype, designed under guidance from Harvard Medical School’s Chung-Kang Peng, has a miniature EKG heart monitor, a small wireless blood pressure cuff, and a small thermometer to monitor key vital signs. An accompanying app takes users through a series of questionnaires on symptoms and other medical information, then guides them through using the devices. Tiny samples of blood can test for things like anaemia and diabetes, and a miniature otoscope lets users take pictures of the inside of their ears — which are sent (via Cloud) to an algorithm that can detect infection. The technology is currently about 85 per cent accurate when compared to standard physician diagnoses. A similar adapter takes a picture of mols and skin lesions to diagnose melanoma with 90 per cent accuracy.
Final Frontier’s prototype looks and functions similarly, with slightly different mechanisms and devices — a fist-sised smart stethoscope helps a computer system diagnose pneumonia, and a device where the user blows into a tube uses differences in air pressure to diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.