Are you eagerly waiting for that moment when you’ll actually be able to say “Beam me up, Scotty” and people won’t be looking at you like you’re not in your right mind? It may come sooner than you think. It seems scientists are taking a closer look at some famous Star Trek inventions as inspiration for real devices.
NASA recently announced that it was working on a plan to 3D print food, much like every Star Trek fan’s favorite gadget, the replicator. Until that is achieved, though, we may get to try another cool device really soon: a real-life medical tricorder.
Scout is a circular, palm-sized medical device able to monitor and track vital signs, heart rate, ECG, temperature, stress and oximetry in just ten seconds. The device was invented by a company called Scanadu, based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.
Details about how the tricorder actually works have not been revealed. To get someone’s medical readings, you simply have to keep the device against the person’s forehead for 10 seconds. The results are then passed from the Scout to your smartphone with the help of an accompanying application. The app allows users to track their health over time but is also able to hold data for multiple users.
By keeping track of past readings, users will be able to determine whether their health condition is degrading and take action before it’s too late. The Scanadu Scout can also analyze the readings, offer a diagnosis and advise users about what course of action they should take. The data collected by the device can also be passed on to a doctor, for further analysis.
Scanadu has been working on the Scout technology for a couple of years, as the device was first intended for the use of International Space Station astronauts to monitor their health condition. The device is thus built based on the same operation system NASA used for the Curiosity Rover, the Micrium.
The Scout is one of the main contenders in an X Prize competition to award the best version of the Star Trek fictional device. Scanadu has recently taken its tricorder to Indiegogo, where it has already exceeded its $100,000 crowdfunding goal by almost $350,000. Backers can get their own Scanadu Scout for as little as $199. The device is expected to start shipping early next year.