A Real Tricorder on the Horizon?

A health scanner similar to the one McCoy used on 'Star Trek' may be in the works.

Proving once again that science fiction can generate science fact (given enough time and money), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently partnered with Grand Challenges Canada (a nonprofit health organization) to pony up $38.5 million to fund the invention of a health diagnostic tool not unlike Dr. McCoy’s “tricorder” from the original Star Trek television series.

On the show, McCoy simply scanned ill or wounded people with his handheld tricorder and presto! the diagnosis was revealed. While the real tool is a bit more complex and would involve taking blood or tissue samples, the principle is the same and would help reduce the time lag between symptoms, lab results and treatment, especially in remote areas. Which means there’s hope that more of us will live long and prosper.