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Qualcomm’s Tricorder X-Prize: Mobile Redefining Medicine

Wearable medical sensors monitored with an app — including disposable smart patches applied like a Band-Aid — mark the beginning of the end for bulky, traditional medical instruments, Donald Jones, vice president of global strategy and market development at Qualcomm Life Inc., said at the MEMS Executive Congress in Napa, Calif.

“We are starting to see the disappearance of the medical device,” Jones said. “The machine itself will be gone.”

In his presentation, “Mobile and the Future of Health and Wellness,” he described dozens of wearable accessories and instrumented patches that turn smartphones and tablets into medical diagnostic tools, with more on the way. He predicted that, by 2017, wearable sensors for health and wellness will surpass 170 million units per year.

Qualcomm Life is supporting the effort by putting together a ecosystem of partners covering all aspects of wearables for medical diagnosis and treatment. “At Qualcomm Life, we are committed to medical devices for patients to use. There are already enough accessories that you can do a complete physical exam with a smartphone.”

Sotera Wireless' Visi Mobile performs all the monitoring functions of a hospital for patients,no matter where they are located.(Source: Sotera)

Sotera Wireless' Visi Mobile performs all the monitoring functions of a hospital for patients,
no matter where they are located.
(Source: Sotera)

Qualcomm is also sponsoring the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize — with a $10 million purse — modeled on the famous Star Trek medical scanner that performed instant medical diagnoses. Dozens of teams worldwide are working to create a handheld device that can diagnose 15 diseases and record and transmit key health metrics. Jones cited Scanadu, headquartered at the NASA-Ames Research Park, as one of the entrants offering the first serious tricorders measuring blood oxygen levels, electrocardiogram, stress, heart rate, body temperature, blood oxygen level, pulse wave transit time, and more.

“By giving the patient a handheld lab, we are turning the patient into a doctor,” he said.

Qualcomm is also working to provide the infrastructure to connect mobile health measurement devices to the cloud for multi-variable analytics. Its HealthyCircles venture provides a software-as-a-service model that connects healthcare professionals, caregivers, and their systems to patients and their families in an integrated, accessible, and interoperable system that monitors and manages treatment regimes remotely.

The Dexcom G4 glucose monitoring system provides continuous
readout of blood sugar levels.(Source: Dexcom)

The Dexcom G4 glucose monitoring system provides continuous readout of blood sugar levels.
(Source: Dexcom)

Jones cited other trends in this field. In “doctors prescribing apps,” doctors have started advising their patients to download apps (for things like exercise and stress reduction) and use them at home. In “apps prescribing doctors,” the app makes a preliminary diagnosis and then recommends the kind of specialist qualified to treat the malady. The patient can then use an app like ZocDoc to browse doctors with that speciality and book an appointment.

The Zio XT patch from iRhythm continuously records heart rhythms for upto 14 days to identify arrhythmias.(Source: iRhythm)

The Zio XT patch from iRhythm continuously records heart rhythms for up
to 14 days to identify arrhythmias.
(Source: iRhythm)

Finally, Jones said online services like Google's Helpouts will soon offer online video chats with healthcare professionals to help diagnose and treat maladies from the comfort of your easy chair.

This article was originally published on EE Times .

9 comments on “Qualcomm’s Tricorder X-Prize: Mobile Redefining Medicine

  1. Daniel
    November 21, 2013

    Colin, there is no doubt that wearable device are going to be a trend (necessity too) in coming years, especially in healthcare domain with the implementation of last mile connectivity and Internet of Things. Self talking devices have many advantages win health care domain, especially with bed driven and immovable patients.

  2. Daniel
    November 21, 2013

    “Qualcomm is also working to provide the infrastructure to connect mobile health measurement devices to the cloud for multi-variable analytics. Its HealthyCircles venture provides a software-as-a-service model that connects healthcare professionals,”

    Colin, application of cloud solutions like 'SaaS', 'App as a service' and 'Sensor as a Service' are the new trends in healthcare domain. There is no doubt that merge of this cloud and wearable device technology can make tremendous changes in health care sector.

  3. Ariella
    November 21, 2013

    @Jacob definitely. There are many advantages to having these devices, particularly for people with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma. Monitoring for themselves cuts back on doctor's visits just to check vital signs and, more importantly, can help cut back on emergency room visit.

  4. Wale Bakare
    November 21, 2013

    You are right cloud evolution seems an interesting and gathering more attentions. How best do you think user could integrate device like this with cloud with less hassle?

  5. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 22, 2013

    Such wearable medical devices and associated mobile apps are definitely a boon for self-diagnostics by the patients especially in emergency situations and in remote areas.

     

    However many a doctors do not believe in the results obtained by such self-diagnostic tools and ask the patients to repeat the tests in the diagnostic labs which is an additional burden on the patients in terms of money as well as time.

     

    If we take the case of the currently available Blood Pressure monitors or Blood Glucose monitors for self diagnosis, the doctors often tell the patients to repeat the test in a laboratory.

     

    The newly developed Apps and sensors should have some kind of authentication tags so that the patients using them can rely on their results.

     

     

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 22, 2013

    This will be interesting in terms of changing the way that people see the world. Eventually, people are going to be taking lots more data to doctors, as you point out. Right now, i wonder if doctors would even be open to that. There's going to need to be a huge culture shift eventually.

  7. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 22, 2013

    @Wale, I bet there's going to be a connection here between electronic medical records and wearable technology, both really hot topics. I wear a fitbit that automatically uploads my steps, calories etc to my computer. It would be a great way to share information with my doctor. ON the other hand, security and privacy issues would have to be carefully considered.

  8. Daniel
    November 24, 2013

    “There are many advantages to having these devices, particularly for people with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma. Monitoring for themselves cuts back on doctor's visits just to check vital signs and, more importantly, can help cut back on emergency room visit.”

    Ariella, it's good for any people having diseases, which require continuous or periodic monitoring. Its convenient and can reduce the diagnostic cost up to an extent.

  9. Daniel
    November 24, 2013

    “You are right cloud evolution seems an interesting and gathering more attentions. How best do you think user could integrate device like this with cloud with less hassle?”

    Wale, if it's a self talking device (device with last mile connectivity or IoT), then it can easily talk or transfer data in to the cloud either for storage or to a SaaS app for further analyzing and processing.  

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