Will there ever be a medical ‘tricorder’?

ZDNet teases us that ‘the race is on’, but is it? It’s a great clickbait headline, but the substance of the article illustrates the distance between today’s tech reality versus the picture of Star Trek’s Bones pointing a Tricorder at a patient and immediately pronouncing that your malady was Sakuro’s Disease or some strange Vulcan malady.

Was it that long ago that the Scanadu Scout was the odds-on bet to be the Tricorder? The hype began in 2012 [TTA 23 May 2013] with Indiegogo funding, competing for the XPRIZE, and breathless pronouncements at nearly every healthcare conference. By 2016, it missed the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE finals (with Northern Ireland’s Intelesens), bricked all sold units to date to comply with FDA regulations on investigational devices, and with Chinese money in hand, moved into other testing devices. Those looking for Scanadu today will be disappointed as their website is unreachable. The DeBrowers and medical director Alan Greene, all of whom were fêted on the healthcare scene, are engaged over at Doc.ai with a new mission of decentralizing precision medicine onto the blockchain using AI, using your medical data gathered on an app (of course).

Google X was up next as Scanadu was fading. There were various devices they were hyping and testing as Google’s life sciences skunk works morphed into Verily, but to date they have all petered out, with some questions raised about people and project churn at the Alphabet unit [TTA 6 April 2016] .

Basil Leaf Technologies (as Final Frontier Medical Devices) wound up winning last year’s final Qualcomm XPRIZE with DxtER, which could diagnose and interpret a defined set of 13 health conditions to various degrees, while continuously monitoring five vital health metrics, using a mix of sensors and an AI-powered diagnostic engine. What they are planning to market first is not DxtER, but a single-disease device to monitor congestive cardiac failure (CCF) since FDA approval for DxtER “would take aeons to be approved.”

Urine tests are also a ‘wet’ way into a tricorder state, with both Basil Leaf and the University of Glasgow working on devices which could quickly scan for metabolites in urine that indicate particular diseases.

QuantuMDx’s Q-POC, from Newcastle UK, is expected to launch in 2019 with handheld diagnostics for bacterial and viral infections. In addition to quick diagnostics for outbreaks in less developed countries, they are also developing diagnostics to prescribe the right antibiotic the first time. This is critical in treatment superbugs such as MRSA and MSSA, as well as more garden variety infections which can go wrong quickly. TTA profiled their crowdfunding launch in 2014.

The ZDNet article wraps up with a bit of romance about how a tricorder is needed for Mars, but down here on Earth, the reality is that a tricorder will likely be a combination of devices and analytics, stitched together by machine learning and AI.

Telemedicine’s ‘missing link’ found? American Well adds Tyto Care remote diagnostics. (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Mom_using_on_child_ear.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Telemedicine leader American Well and telehealth newcomer Tyto Care announced a new partnership that (finally) pairs up remote diagnostics to the virtual doctor visit. Patients (or parents) can use the Tyto Care device before or during the online visit to take guided exams of the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, throat, skin and temperature which is then shared with the doctor. The releases indicate that the American Well-Tyto Care combination will be introduced first to health systems and employers. The Tyto Care examination platform and clinical data are being integrated into American Well’s telehealth platform. Timing and pricing are not disclosed, but the retail price of Tyto Care’s home model is $299.  Tyto Care, American Well releases.

Tyto Care recently obtained FDA 510(k) Class II clearance for its digital stethoscope snap-on to the main device to monitor heart and lung sounds. [TTA 2 Nov] The all-in-one type device also includes attachments for a digital imaging otoscope for ear exams, a throat scope, a skin camera and thermometer swipe. A new and quite comprehensive demo video of Tyto Care on its own platform is viewable on YouTube, which includes how a doctor can review the information during a live video visit, or as a store-and-forward exam. Tyto Care is also introducing a professional version of its device and platform.

Tyto Care has also made it to the finals of The Best of Baby Tech (a/k/a The Bump) Awards, which include a new version of the awww-worthy Owlet smart sock baby monitor, the Edwin the Duck child learning tool, TempTraq’s continuous temperature monitor and the SNOO smart sleeper. They will be exhibited with 13 other finalists at CES 2017 in the Bump Pavilion at the Baby Tech Showcase 5-8 January, with winners in six categories on the 5th. #babytechces

A tricorder one step closer: Tyto Care gains FDA clearance for its digital stethoscope (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Mom_using_on_child_ear.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Only a few years ago, the Star of the Future of Digital Health was the ‘tricorder’–that all-in-one vital signs device that Bones on Star Trek wielded with such élan (when he wasn’t uttering ‘He’s dead, Jim’). We haven’t heard much from Scanadu since early last year when it raised $35 million for its Series B and when it teamed with with Northern Ireland’s Intelesens as a finalist for the seemingly never-ending Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. (Seven finalists are now in consumer testing with awards in early 2017.)

In the meantime, others have been proceeding in bringing their devices into reality far sooner, for real people with everyday health problems who want to examine a child, another family member or even themselves at home. One of these companies is Israel’s Tyto Care (picture above at left), which received FDA 510(k) Class II clearance for its digital stethoscope snap-on to the main device to monitor heart and lung sounds. The device also includes a digital imaging otoscope for ear exams, a throat scope, a skin camera and thermometer swipe. The Tyto home device includes video guidance instructions as part of the smartphone or tablet platform to enable a correct reading. It connects to an online platform to send the information, either in real time or store-and-forward, to a primary care physician the user selects. Tyto Care has been in investigational marketing in the US as well as Israel, bolstered by over $18 million in international investment. They are targeting home DTC as well as professional markets through practices, payers, virtual visit providers and possibly retail (one of their investors is Walgreens Boots). Release If you are attending MEDICA 2017 in Düsseldorf on 16 November, you can see Tyto Care demonstrated at the 5th Annual MEDICA App Competition.

Another all-in-one device is Las Vegas-based MedWand, which is still in pre-marketing. MedWand seems to feature clinic and ‘group’ packages as well as the individual device which includes a pulse oximeter. They received another round of undisclosed financing from Maxim Ventures, the venture arm for semi-conductor developer Maxim Integrated Products at end of September. Release.

Scanadu, Intelesens team for Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE (US/UK)

Does it seem that the run-up to the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE has been going on forever? Perception is reality since its various stages have been taking place since 2013 and the $10 million award won’t be until early 2016. This past August, the finalists were narrowed to 10. Now two are teaming up: the best known, California-based Scanadu and (known to our Readers) Belfast-based Intelesens zensor in what will now be known as Team Scanadu/Intelesens. Team zensor also includes Northern Ireland-based Randox clinical diagnostics, CHIC (Connected Health Innovation Centre) as facilitator and CIGA Healthcare for self-test products. Scanadu shipped the Scout as a non-FDA-cleared working prototype (more…)

Swasthya Slate: the Indian tricorder?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Swat-Slate-devices2.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Just coming to this Editor’s attention — and wondering why it hasn’t received more — is the Swasthya Slate, a diagnostic tablet pre-loaded with 33 diagnostic tests, procedural apps and diagnostic devices for health workers who have basic medical training. It was developed by an Indian startup  headed by a former member of Arizona State University’s department of biomedical informatics, Kanav Kahol. He returned home to New Delhi three years ago frustrated in his desire to develop an inexpensive, simplified diagnostic tablet for use in remote areas, using the same sensors that far more complex devices used. The ruggedized tablet, in addition to the pre-loaded tests and artificial intelligence-based apps, incorporates a four-lead ECG, medical thermometer, water-quality meter, heart-rate monitor, 12-lead ECG and sensors for blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, blood haemoglobin, urine protein and glucose. (more…)

Eimo UK telehealth device fundraising via Kickstarter

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Eimo.jpg” thumb_width=”190″ /]Updated 25 July    If our exclusive on the ‘tricorder-like’ Eimo device caught your attention [TTA 19 May], you will be interested in the extra information about it given on its Kickstarter page. See the second video down and read some more on its background, history and the philosophy of the developers, iMonSys, located in North Yorkshire. You may even want to pledge some cash to help produce the first 1,000 units! (Unfortunately, funding stands at only £2,000 of a required £145,000 pledge by Wednesday, 13 August.) iMonSys will also be developing two versions: for home use to retail at £300 and the medical version to retail at £600. What is different about this is that based on the demo, anyone can be taught to use Eimo and it produces a reading of core body temperature, full ECG trace, oxygen levels, pulse and blood pressure in well under two minutes as seen in the video. Also it stores data so that the ‘funny turn’ that doesn’t consistently happen can also be captured and stored for later analysis by a doctor. Will it actually be a vital signs monitor ‘which even Granny can use’? Based on the video it certainly seems so.

Update: Laurie Orlov picks up iMonSys’ local roots in Staithes in her post on Boomer Health Tech Watch linking to an article in the Whitby Gazette. Founder and developer Graham Priestley’s original concept resembled the ‘black box’ on an aircraft to monitor a soldier’s vital signs, with the original research under the aegis of the (UK) Ministry of Defence but shelved around 2008. He picked this up two years later with the assistance of the University of Hull, and is currently seeking to

Our readers can help spread the word on this UK product on Kickstarter!