Life often seems to imitate art. A recent article described how new healthcare technology is beginning to catch up with devices we have seen in science fiction literatures and TV for years (see: 3 Ways Real Health Care Is Catching Up to Sci-Fi Health Care). The device that caught my eye because it was lab-related was the emergence of what is described as a real Star Trek "tricorder." Below is an excerpt from the article:
At CES 2012, wireless chipmaker Qualcomm, in coordination with the X PRIZE Foundation, launched a $10 million competition to produce the first medical tricorder. The competition asked participants to create a handheld device to diagnose a set of 15 diseases and measure health metrics such as blood pressure, respiratory rate, and body temperature. The proposed device is also expected to accumulate and store data wirelessly over the cloud. Silicon Valley company Scanadu is in the clear lead. The company unveiled a prototype of its tricorder device, known as the Scout, in November 2012. The Scout can instantly scan a wide variety of health parameters, including pulse transit time, heart rate and variability, electrical heart activity, and blood oxygenation. It can also help a doctor diagnose a wide variety of diseases ranging from abdominal cramps to shingles. At...CES 2014, Scanadu finally unveiled its final hardware design for the Scout, which runs on the same operating system used by NASA in the Mars Rover.
Unfortunately, a visit to the web site provides not many more details but rather promises that the Scanadu Scout device can be held up to the forehead and will measure temperature, heath rate, oximetry, heart rate, pulse wave transmit time (PWTT), urinalysis, and stress. It's not exactly clear on the web site but it appears that the urinalysis is performed with a kit called Scanaflo that interacts with a smartphone to measure glucose, protein, leukocytes, nitrates, blood, bilirubin, urobilinogen, specific gravity, and pH. The device will also test for pregnancy.
For me, the most interesting aspect of this whole story was disclosed in a press release by the company (see: Scanadu Secures $10.5 Million in Series A Funding From Relay Ventures, Tony Hsieh and Jerry Yang). Here's an excerpt from it:
In July..., Scanadu closed a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that quickly became the most funded campaign in the platform’s history, raising more than $1.6 million. Those who participated in the campaign will be a crucial part of the company’s road to FDA approval by taking part on a voluntary basis in a usability study for the Scanadu Scout in 2014.
Who would be more motivated to participate in a clinical trial of the Scout device than the crowdfunding small investors supporting the company?