Tricorder X Prize Would Seek Out New Tech, Enhance Civilization

The venerable Star Trek tricorder, often imitated but never actually shown 100% emulating the one demonstrated in science fiction, could net an inventor $10 million if they're able to produce the real thing.

Unsurprisingly, the competition to create such a device is called the Tricorder X Prize. Much like the Ansari and Automotive X prizes that have preceded it, this one would motivate inventors using the age-old carrot and stick approach. A $10 million carrot, that is.

Obviously, this competition goes far beyond satiating a generation of geeks who have longed to diagnose themselves and loved ones during Enterprise sick bay reenactments. If a tricorder can indeed be made, it would have incredible, paradigm-shifting implications within the health care industry, both in the developed and developing world.

Potential sponsor Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation are currently hashing out the specifics for this competition, which is scheduled to kick off in 2012. Ideally, this competition would produce the real deal—on-the-spot medical diagnostics, instantly—as there are already a fair number of portable ultrasound and scanner devices on the market already. [MSNBC, Image: NASA]