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44 The PCB Magazine • December 2014 by Steve Williams SteVe WilliamS conSulting llc Star Trek Inspires Medical Technology for 2015 F e a t u r e c o l u m n PoiNt of View In a galaxy far, far away, the March 2012 is- sue of The PCB Magazine, to be exact, I wrote a column entitled, "How William Shatner Changed the PCB World." A short two and a half years later, Star Trek is still inspiring bleed- ing-edge medical technology that will impact all of us in the very near future. Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize Contest Close to 50 years after Dr. Leonard H. "Bones" McCoy of the Starship Enterprise first used a fictional tricorder to scan patients for ailments and anomalies, real-world medical sci- ence is turning that science fiction into a reality. Recently, at the opening ceremony of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology So- ciety International Conference in Chicago, 10 teams were named finalists in a $10 million prize competition to create a lightweight, por- table, wireless device that can diagnose and monitor medical conditions. More than 300 teams from around the world competed in the Star Trek-inspired chal- lenge that was launched in January 2012, and four of the 10 finalists are from the USA. The finalists come from start-ups, medical device manufactures, non-profits, and academia. The first-, second- and third-place winners will be named to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the TV series' debut and take prizes worth $7 million, $2 million and $1 million, respec- tively. Qualcomm Foundation, the charitable arm of mobile technology company Qual- comm, provided the prize money. Contest Rules There are four basic rules for the Tricorder Challenge. Each entry must: 1) Be a handheld device 2) Continuously take a patient's vital signs 3) Detect a prescribed set of 15 diseases 4) Weigh less than five pounds "The theme of Star Trek is really about what the future is going to be like and the kind of technology we're going to see," said Erik Viirre, Technical & Medical Director of the competition. The interesting takeaway of this com- petition is that creating a handheld medical laboratory might just give us Figure 1: Star Trek's tricorder.

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