Starship enter prize: tech contest launches at Star Trek convention

Amidst warp drives, transporters and phasers there is one Star Trek technology that is close to becoming real – and organisers of the US-based X prize want UK researchers to make it happen.

October 19, 2012

Representatives of the X Prize are at the Star Trek London convention today to encourage UK teams to enter the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, named after the medical device that features in the science fiction series.

To win the $10 million (£6.2 million) prize teams must create a handheld device that can diagnose upward of 15 medical conditions or states and five vital signs.

“The goal is to seek out some more UK teams who may not have heard about this – let them know it exists, that the technology they’re creating is very real and that they can compete for a chance to win,” said Mark Winter, Prize Director of the Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE.

Details of the competition will feature as part of the convention's opening event, which includes all five previous fictional captains of the Starship Enterprise.

Since its launch in January some 260 teams have declared an interest in the competition, which opens officially in November.

Despite the sci-fi link, the competition is a serious effort to produce a technology with a huge impact, said Mr Winter. “We’re seeking to create a device that could, for example, inform a consumer if their child just has a bad summer cold or if it’s pneumonia, or spot the early indications of diabetes,” he said.

Running in parallel with the Tricorder prize is the Nokia Sensing X Challenge. With a value of $2.25 million, it is focused on creating biosensors, which can range from the non-invasive, based on the colour of the interior of the eye, to adhesive tags and DNA fingerprinting.

The plan is to hold a conference at the Nokia Innovation Center in Cambridge in the New Year to bring inventors together to talk about the competitions.

Entries to both X prizes are not always conventional.

Graham Ewing, chief executive of UK firm Montague Healthcare said he is looking for university research partners to collaborate on his company’s “virtual scanning” technique, which purports to use the way in which a person perceives colour to give an indication of pathologies.

Although winning previous X prizes has required teams to spend significantly more than the eventual prize money, advantages in taking part include huge publicity and the opportunity to find other teams to collaborate with, said Mr Winter.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Lecturer in Business and Management DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY
Director of the Roslin Institute THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
Lecturer in Economics DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY
International Director UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants