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How X Prize Contestants Will Hunt Down The Health Sensors Of The Future

From smartphone-based stress tests to wearable devices that could "revolutionize" urological diagnosis, sensors to gauge health conditions are advancing by leaps and bounds. They'll have to—if anyone actually wants to create a medical Tricorder.

How X Prize Contestants Will Hunt Down The Health Sensors Of The Future

[Image: Health Sensors via Shutterstock]

The $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize asks entrants to perform an incredibly difficult feat: accurately diagnose 15 diseases in 30 patients in three days using only a mobile platform. To do that, competing teams need to have access to sophisticated sensors and related software.

Some of those sensors may be found among the finalists of the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, a set of two consecutive competitions that challenges teams to advance sensing technology for gathering data about human health and the environment. The finalists for the first challenge, announced in early August, are diverse, though they do share one common trait: They're all lab-on-a-chip technologies. "They're small enough to be body wearable and programmable, but they use different methods," says Mark Winter, senior director of the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE.

The 12 finalist teams include i-calQ, a company building the "first smartphone-based quantitative point-of-care integrated diagnostic solution" (i.e. for measuring stress levels based upon salivary cortisol levels); Elfi-Tech, which is working on non-invasive tools to continuously measure heart rate and blood pressure; and Abus-Urodynamics, which is developing a wearable device that the company claims will "revolutionize urological clinical diagnosis."

Winners of the first challenge will be announced in October. The second challenge, which has already opened registration, will end next July. There are 40 teams registered, compared to 26 for the first challenge.

"People like to see what will happen and who won first," says Winter. "We are very thankful to the pioneering teams that entered the first round. Many of those have the best opportunity of being integrated into the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize solution." Final judging for the Tricorder X Prize will begin in 2015.