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Exciting Day for Final Frontier Medical Devices!

Basil Harris

Science News for Students: Star Trek technology becomes more science than fiction

Basil Harris

Basil Harris is an emergency room doctor in Philadelphia, Pa., who grew up watching Star Trek. The show was notable not just for its gadgets, he says. He also liked how it depicted people working together to solve problems. They didn't always get along. McCoy, for example, was a cranky physician who often quarreled with crew members. But he was part of the team. If one crew member was captured or endangered, the rest collaborated on a rescue.

“They had a nice harmony,” Harris says. “It was an optimistic view of the future. How could you not like it?”


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Forbes: 'Star Trek' Science: How A Medical Tricorder Works

Basil Harris

by Kevin Anderton    |    SEP 29, 2016 @ 11:56 AM

On the Starship Enterprise, Dr. Leonard McCoy uses a handheld gadget to diagnose his patients. This device is called a tricorder and is capable of telling the doctor about a person’s health just by waving a small scanner around their body. He is able to tell if the person is alive or dead, the extent of physical injuries, and countless other facts about their health. On the show this usually this results in the line “He’s dead Jim,” but in real life, a device such as this would revolutionize the medical industry.

Today, a company called Qualcomm QCOM is in the middle of a contest to see if anyone can create a working tricorder. The contest began back in 2012 and is now reaching an end. Originally there were 312 teams signed up from 38 different countries, and now they are down to seven finalists from four countries. The teams are required to create a device that is able to diagnose several different conditions and be able to monitor vital signs of the patient. In addition to those requirements the device and its components can weigh no more than 5 pounds. If successful an individual will be able to use this device to help maintain basic healthcare without visiting a doctor.

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San Diego Union-Tribune: Deadline extended for Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE

Basil Harris

Deadline extended for Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE

Seven teams vying for $10 million prize; Winner to be named in 2017

By Mike Freeman | 4:45 p.m. Dec. 17, 2015 | Updated, 5:42 p.m.

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The $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition has been extended for about a year, contest organizers said Thursday. XPrize Foundation

The $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition has been extended for about a year, contest organizers said Thursday. XPrize Foundation

Transforming the fictional Star Trek tricorder into a real-life medical scanner has turned out to be harder than expected. 

The $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize competition has been extended for about a year, contest organizers said Thursday. The move will give the seven finalists more time to perfect their designs.

Originally, a winner was schedule to be named in early 2016.

“Because of the advanced level of technology required to achieve success in this competition, and to ensure the finalists have enough time to refine their tricorders, we decided to add a second phase of consumer testing and extend the competition,” the XPrize Foundation said in a statement.

Officially launched in January 2012, the Tricorder XPrize aims to push wireless medical technology into the mainstream. San Diego-based Qualcomm pledged the prize money. The company has long viewed mobile technology as key to cutting health care costs and improving results.

Last year, 10 finalist teams were selected. They had to deliver prototype devices this summer for testing in San Diego, including user reviews.

Those initial tests occurred at the Clinical and Translational Research Institute and the University of California San Diego, where dozens of volunteers and health care providers tried out the devices.

The benchmarks were ambitious: Detect 16 different conditions and continuously monitor five common vital signs.

Even when the finalists were announced, some teams expressed concern about the technical difficulty of testing for so many diverse illnesses on a portable device.

Now, the 16 conditions have been trimmed to 13 — with tuberculous, Hepatitis A and stroke detection eliminated. “We did this to keep pace with current epidemiology, as well as to reduce risk of contagion to the testers,” said contest organizers.

Remaining illnesses include pneumonia, anemia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and diabetes, among others.

Seven of the 10 original finalists remain in the competition. At least two finalists have joined forces.

Teams will deliver 30 new prototypes, with consumer testing expected to begin in September 2016. Winners will be announced in early 2017. (760) 529-4973 Twitter @TechDiego

read full article: Final Frontier Medical Devices

Basil Harris

By Jon Sung - July 06, 2015

Somewhere in Philadelphia, there's a house full of tricorders. Literally. The living room, the dining room, even the kitchen is stuffed with computers, tools, testing equipment and 3D printed casings. The people working inside don't have a big lab or a fancy office space. They're Final Frontier Medical Devices, and they're a finalist team in the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition — all seven of them. Impressed? "My sister likes to say we're small, but mighty," the team’s founder chuckles. "Everyone has full-time jobs elsewhere, so this is a part-time gig for us, cobbling this together in our free hours."

Things get even more impressive when you find out exactly who this team’s founder is: he's Dr. Basil Harris, MD, PhD, FACEP.  Those last five letters means he's an ER doctor, and a damn good one. "It's just like you'd imagine any busy ER," Dr. Harris says of his work at Lankenau Medical Center in West Philly, "overrun, undersized, always busy. There's no downtime. You're lucky if you get to pause to go to the bathroom in a 12-hour stretch." So in his “free” time, this guy heads up a group building a working medical tricorder? "I'm the nut who had that idea," he grins.

Nuttiness of this type may run in the family. Dad is a retired engineer, but Dr. Harris credits much of his life's path to his brother Constantine "Gus" Harris, who was working on a PhD in electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before ditching it for the relaxing world of medical school; Gus is now a urologist and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Harris himself got his PhD in civil engineering before making a similar leap. "I gravitated towards emergency medicine because I didn't want to be completely focused on just one item; I loved the variety and the pace and the chaos of the emergency department. You take care of everything, and you have no clue what's coming through the door next; that's where I've been now for 10 years." Dr. Harris is joined on Final Frontier by another brother, George, and aforementioned sister, Julia, who holds a Masters of Public Health degree (clearly a family of lazy underachievers).


Scientific American: Tricorder XPRIZE Competition Heats Up

Basil Harris

Tricorder XPRIZE Competition Heats Up

The race to make a medical diagnostic device inspired by Star Trek enters the final stage this month, as consumers put competing designs to the test

By Michael Belfiore | June 22, 2015

On the classic TV series Star Trek, Dr. McCoy made his job look easy. Diagnosing a patient was a simple matter of whipping out a device called a tricorder and waving it over the person, accompanied by suitably futuristic sound effects. More often than not, the diagnosis was grim and McCoy would declare to Captain Kirk, with professional deadpan, “He’s dead, Jim.”

The dream of a working tricorder may be on the verge of becoming a reality, as eight teams from around the world gather in San Diego this month to deliver prototypes of their entries for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. The rules for the contest are simple: build a device that will allow consumers to perform their own tests for up to 24 different ailments and deliver a diagnosis on the spot, as well as send the data to a cloud-based software platform for further analysis by physicians.

The execution is anything but simple, however. To succeed, the devices have to cram an array of sensors into a compact package, along with the computational power to analyze the data they produce and return a correct diagnosis.

In addition to sensors, some of the competitors are leaning heavily on the computational element. Team Final Frontier, for example, led by Pennsylvania emergency room physician Basil Harris, has a patient respond to a questionnaire on a tablet as a major input to the system. Harris says his team’s task is to program his knowledge and experience into the system.


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