Qualcomm Announces Tricorder X-Prize Finalists


Qualcomm announces the 10 finalists in its ambitious Tricorder X-Prize competition. The digital health contest was announced in 2010, as a partnership between Qualcomm and the X-Prize Foundation. The contest challenged participating teams to “develop a mobile solution that can diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians,” and offers $10 million in prizes as an incentive.

Founded by American entrepreneur and Singularity University co-founder Peter Diamandis, the X-Prize Foundation has a long standing history of fueling innovation. Since its 1994 launch, it has awarded prizes for the first privately manned spaceship to successfully reach orbit, the first 100mpg car, and for a more efficient oil spill cleanup technology. Now, the foundation is pushing into the digital health space as competition heats up around its Tricorder X-Prize contest.

When it was announced in 2011, the X-Prize competition attracted dozens of teams from all over the world. More than 300 teams submitted initial designs. In November 2013, the competition was narrowed down to 34 semi-finalists, who were given until April 2014 to submit full designs. Now, after a summer spent reviewing the proposals, Qualcomm has narrowed the field to the final 10 teams.

Final designs are required to perform at-home diagnostic testing, capable of capturing key health metrics, such as vital signs, and using that data to correctly and reliably diagnosing 13 common medical conditions identified by X-Prize contest guidelines. The conditions include: diabetes, pneumonia, anemia, UTI, COPD, and even stroke. Two additional conditions must be selected from an elective set of diseases, which includes: strep throat, HIV, hypertension, and melanoma, among others. Each finalist will have the remainder of 2014 to build a working prototype of their design. Judging will commence in Q1 2015 with a final winner announced during the Spring/Summer of 2015.

The finalists of the Tricorder X-Prize are:


Aezon (Baltimore, MD, USA) is made up of a team of Johns Hopkins students who are submitting a four-part solution which includes: a vitals monitoring unit, a lab system, a smartphone app, and a cloud API.


CloudDX (Mississauga, ON, Canada) is a team from medical device manufacturer Biosign. The team is being led by company CMO Sonny Kohli, MD and is leveraging “pulsewave health monitoring technology” at the core of its design.


Danvantri (Chennai, Tamilnadu, India) is the only team representing India. The company is building a fitness tracker-inspired health monitoring device capable of capturing a full set of vitals, activity levels, sleep patterns, as well as being able to analyze blood, urine, and ECG readings.

 DMI (Cambridge, MA, USA) is a Harvard University and MIT student collaboration that has recruited support from NASA, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the NIH. The team is not without a sense of humor and recorded their Tricorder contest submission video in full Star Trek regalia.


Dynamic Biomarkers Group (Zhongli City, Taoyuan, Taiwan) is a collaborative effort between physicians from Taiwan and the US, led by Harvard Medical School professor Chung-Kang Peng. The team is building a five-part system which will collectively analyze blood, breath, urine, vitals, and take diagnostic images.


Final Frontier Medical Devices (Paoli, PA, USA) is a team of brothers, one an engineer and the other an emergency medicine physician, building a device aimed at providing answers for would-be ER patients with non-urgent conditions. CEO and MD Basil Haris says "Once you strip away the action part of an ED–the trauma, hemorrhaging, and cardiac arrests – you are left with the other 90% of patients who may not have an “emergency” or be in imminent danger, but are looking for a timely diagnosis and a course of action.”

MESI Simplifying Diagnostics (Ljubljana, Slovenia) is another medical device company. Its team is entering a submission that takes the idea of a basic app-based symptom checker, and then supplements the user experience with information gathered from an activity tracker, and several supplementary testing kits that are used to evaluate hearing, vision, and various other symptoms.


SCANADU (Moffett Field, CA, USA) is the big name in the Tricorder X-Prize and widely considered the favorite. The company launched on a record-breaking $1.6 million Indiegogo campaign, and then promptly announced an additional $10.5 million Series A round. Scanadu’s prototype has had its hiccups though. Units began shipping to Indiegogo backers in March 2014, but shipments were halted in April when issues with accuracy were reported. The company is now working thorough the issues and promises to be ready for the X-Prize finals judging.

SCANurse (London, UK) is a British team working on a simplified device that relies only on breath, movement, and visual analysis, rather than blood or urine analysis, to diagnose the contest’s required conditions. The team hopes that its approach will resonate with consumers, alleviate some regulatory hurdles, and satisfy the requirements of the X-Prize judges.


Zensor (Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK) is a team from UK-based medical device manufacturer Intelesens. The team is building a home monitoring system that uses a disposable electrode array to capture diagnostic quality ECGs, heart rate, respiration rate, and motion. The data is transmitted to a local server, where it can be analyzed and shared with care providers.

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