The Star Trek franchise envisioned a universe rife with technologies both awe-inspiring and seemingly too advanced for us to use any time soon. Yet, as the show turns 50 years old next year, many of these futuristic concepts are rapidly crossing from fiction to reality. A universal translator? Skype is on that. A warp drive? NASA's on that too.
Now the diagnostic tricorder is coming to life, thanks to a competition started by the XPrize Foundation. Launched in 2012, the $10 Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize challenged groups and companies to develop a device that continuously tracks a person's vital signs and diagnoses up to 15 health conditions--from anemia and high blood pressure to urinary tract infections and stroke--all from the comfort of a person's home. The hope is for the winning tricorder to be easy to use, compact, and efficient; it can't weigh more than five pounds, and it must be able to measure these health conditions within 72 hours.