You've seen the medical Tricorder before on Star Trek. It's the futuristic gizmo Dr. “Bones” McCoy points at crew members of the Enterprise to determine if they're space sick. No longer the stuff of science fiction, a real-world and functional version of the famous prop is now available for those who backed it on Indiegogo.
Called Scanadu Scout, the hockey puck-shaped device works by holding it to the forehead. Through its sensors, it is able to read heart rate, temperature, oxygen levels, run an electrocardiogram, gauge heart rate variability, check blood pressure in a matter of seconds, and it provides a complete ECG reading, beamed straight to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The Scout effectively replaces the opening moments of a visit to the doctor's office when someone takes your vitals. The Scout accomplishes all of this in a noninvasive way.
The device has a visible and near-infrared LED and sensor, an ECG sensor, a far-IR sensor used for detecting temperature and a microphone to gauge heart and breathing sounds. It includes a micro-USB adapter and manufacturer Scanadu says it takes less than an hour to charge; if you use it a few times daily, it should last you the week. The corresponding smartphone app will be available for free on both Android and iOS.
The California startup Scanadu, named after a combination of “scan” and Xanadu, the ancient city of splendor and science, successfully crowdfunded the Tricorder-like Scout using Indiegogo, where it blew past its $100,000 funding goal just hours after its launch. The device is not available to purchase yet since it's pending FDA approval, but Scanadu began sending the first shipments of the Scout to backers at the end of January for “in the wild” testing.
The Scout is the result of efforts by Walter De Brouwer, a Belgian entrepreneur who had to deal with the frustrations of hospitals after his son suffered brain damage because of a fall. The Tricorder from Star Trek sparked his inspiration for the Scanadu Scout which can be used by anyone.
"We've medicalised your smartphone,” De Brouwer said in a statement to CNN. “You can now check your health as easily as your email. People will no longer ask if there's a doctor on the plane, but if there's a Tricorder."
Scanadu is also working on Scanaflo, a complete urine test kit that can be used at home.