It’s official folks. Bill Gates and his significant other are Trekkies. The Gates Foundation is working with the Canadian government to develop a real-life “tricorder” – you know, the thingamajig that “Star Trek” doctors use for diagnosing their ailing crew on board the Enterprise.
Tricorder and Phaser
On the TV show, the gadget looks simple enough – wave it over the patient and, bam, you’ve found the problem. But, of course, this is the real world and such a device would probably be a little more complex. The ability to take tissue or blood samples and analyze them in the field for illnesses and transmit them to the medical crew would help.
And, since this is reality, I wouldn’t be surprised if such a device ended up less like the tricorder in “The Next Generation” and more resembled the device in the original 1960s series (see below). Whatever is developed, the Gates Foundation and Canada want to do it for $38.5 million, according to The Associated Press.
On Friday, (Grand Challenges Canada) planned to announce nearly $32 million in grants to 22 researchers around the world to tackle different pieces of the project, from developing new tests for life-threatening diseases to creating technical and clinical protocols that each of the tests would need to meet in order to pull them all together into one device. …
Bigtec Labs in Bangalore, India, is using its grant to develop a filter to concentrate pathogen DNA from samples of blood, urine, a throat swab or other body fluids. Once concentrated, the pathogens can be more easily analyzed by a handheld device.
Achira Labs, also in Bangalore, is working with researchers at McGill University in Montreal to find a way to use a piece of silk as a cost-effective and simple diagnostic tool for blood and urine samples. Singer said they were especially interested in this idea because it would have the added side effect of creating jobs for local artisans and it is environmentally friendly.
Sounds like a lot of research needs to be done before a real tricorder is even useful. But hey, somebody’s got to do the grunt work.