Star Trek’s Tricorders–available before decade’s end?

In one of the funniest scenes from 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, our heroes rescue a fellow crew member from the “dark ages” of late 20th Century medicine. The techniques are so bizarre to the ship’s doctor, sent back in time from the 23rd Century, that he compares them to the Spanish Inquisition. In his world, he can obtain an accurate diagnosis simply by waving a box called a “tricorder” over his patients to get instant results. Now, thirty years later, 21st century technologists are close to producing actual tricorders that seniors and others will be able to use to diagnose themselves.


In truth, not unlike Star Trek’s communicator and its resemblance to “flip” phones, we already have devices with many of the features of a tricorder: computer tablets. They are wireless, light-weight, and have intense computational power, so it only made sense for wireless pioneer Qualcomm to sponsor a $10 million competiton through the XPrize to create a portable instant diagnostic device weighing no more than five pounds.Continue Reading