Tricorder X Prize competition pushes back deadline, loosens requirements

By Jonah Comstock
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The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize has extended its deadline and tweaked the requirements for its seven remaining finalists, the group announced last month. Launched in 2013, the Tricorder X Prize is a $10 million competition to build a self-contained, handheld device for consumers that can diagnose a number of diseases and check several vital signs.

“The accomplishments the teams have made so far in this competition are nothing short of remarkable; the prototypes they delivered are perhaps some of the most intricate diagnostic devices under development today and have the potential to change the way healthcare is delivered,” Tricorder X Prize Director Grant Campany said in a statement. “Because of the advanced level of technology required to achieve success in this competition, and to ensure the finalists have enough time to refine their tricorders, we decided to add a second phase of consumer testing and extend the competition.”

The prize was originally set to be given out in 2016, partly to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, from which the “tricorder” name derives. Now winners are set to be announced in early 2017, with phase two of consumer testing set to begin in September 2016.

The contest organizers have also eliminated tubercolosis, hepatitis A, and stroke from the list of 16 conditions devices are required to detect. Campany said this decision was made “to keep pace with current epidemiology, as well as to reduce risk of contagion to the testers”.

Ten finalists were announced in August 2014 out of an original slate of 34 teams. Now that number is down to just seven.

As we reported in April, Intelesens and Scanadu merged into a single team while Slovenian team MESI Simplifying Diagnostics dropped from the competition, in order to focus more fully on commercialization of its product. 

A few months later, Scanurse also dropped out of the competition, but not by choice. According to a blog post, the UK company’s prototype was held up in customs and they weren’t able to deliver it by the deadline.

“As of today, Scanurse is no longer part of the XPRIZE competition,” the company wrote on June 5th. “Of course we are disappointed, especially since this was caused by circumstances beyond our control. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still in the global game of helping to change healthcare for the better. Scanurse will continue to push forward with what we’ve learned and built, with some modifications based on better flexibility outside the competition framework.”

The remaining teams are Scanadu-Intelesens, Aezon, CloudDX, Davantri, DMI, Dynamical Biomarkers Group, and Final Frontier Medical Devices.