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Soon you may not have to go to the doctor to get an accurate diagnosis

Dr. Eric Topol, the chief academic officer of Scripps Health took to the stage with Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) Chairman and CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs, to talk ARM and smartphone's emerging roles as medical tools.  

I. Ditch the Doctor, Get Technology

Dr. Jacobs isn't much of a fan of the traditional medical system, which he complain is "inefficient, bureaucratic, and at worst even inaccurate."

He points to the fact that it typically takes 21 days in the U.S. to just get a doctor's appointment, and then another 2 hours in the waiting room to see the doctor.  As an alternative Qualcomm is pushing mobile self-diagnosis devices, which will help remove some of the reliance on unreliable medical professionals.

Dr. Topol -- author of the new book The Creative Destruction of Medicine -- had quite an exciting bag full of gadgets to back Dr. Jacobs claims.  First he showed off a prototype of a hand-held, clip-on smartphone electrocardiogram (EKG) reader, made by Qualcomm-funded AliveCor.  Apparently, Dr. Topol -- currently trialling the Alive Core device in the real world -- was able to use it to quickly diagnose that an airplane passenger having chest pains was having a heart attack, and not just indigestion.  The airplane made an emergency landing, allowing the man's life to be saved.

Dr. Topol

The good doctor also showed off an Android widget that received real-time, continuous information from a glucose monitoring device.  He also showed off a device from Sotera called Visi Wireless, which monitored in a non-intrusive way, continuously, as well as tracking other characteristics (blood oxygen, etc.) all from a slick watch package.  Dr. Topol brags, "It's like an ICU on the wrist."

Qualcomm Alive Core
The Alive Core is seen here in hand, while the Visi Wireless blood-pressure and biometrics watch is seen worn on Dr. Topol's wrist.

Dr. Topol hinted that by using nanosensors you could detect a heart attack well in advance via certain cellular cues.  The system could send a text message to your phone.  Dr. Jacobs quipped, "That's one text message I don't want to get."

He wrapped up by showing a slick device from DNA Electronics that is a handheld DNA analyzer, capable of sequencing specific sequences of interest within seconds.  Dr. Topol says he expects the device to soon be in the field at pharmacies, detecting genetic incompatibilities with certain medications, such as the heart medication Plavix.

II. Making the World's First "Real World Tricorder"

While Qualcomm clearly has its chips and loan dollars in a lot of interesting projects, the mobile chipmaker is stepping up its efforts to the next level with the "Tricorder X-Prize".  The X-Prize follows successful X-Prize competitions for space travel, fuel efficiency, and oil spill cleanup -- competitions which produced solutions far superior to any existing ones.

The Tricorder X-Prize

The goal of the competition is to provide "self-diagnosis without the hospital."

The first team who can design a device capable of a broad self-diagnosis, while maintaining "fun" and "easy to use" design paradigms, will take home a check for $10M USD, courtesy of Qualcomm.

Tricorder Priz

Of course it won't be a true Star Trek tricorder unless it can scan and diagnose you without touching the skin.  But Qualcomm is allowing that to slide for now, for the sake of getting real products on the market.

More info on this new and ambitious X-Prize can be found at its homepage here.


All images © of Jason Mick and DailyTech LLC.




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