Recently in the Tricorder Category


Smartphones Become Tricorders

"Run tracking and calorie counting apps can certainly be regarded among the successes of the smartphone, but without dedicated sensor hardware, the philosophy of "there's an app for that" only goes so far. A host of products now available for Android let users with a little bit of technical know-how create powerful devices previously found only in the domain of hospitals and law enforcement. One of the most successful expansion boards that allows Android devices to control external instruments and to orchestrate the collection of a variety of sensor data is the IOIO board. The system works well in wireless mode with most Bluetooth dongles, and its on-board FPGA gives 25 I/O channels, including plenty for analog input. It also handles analog output via pulse width modulation (PWM)." More at ExtremeTech

"Microflow is a miniaturized version of a flow cytometer (a common research or clinical laboratory instrument used for a range of bioanalysis and clinical diagnoses). Microflow can spot cells and biological molecules rapidly by using optical fibre-optic technology to detect them in a sample of liquid as they pass single-file in front of a laser--all within 10 minutes. Different detectors positioned at the point where the stream meets the laser can analyse the physical and chemical properties of molecules or cells in the sample. Unlike most current flow cytometers (which are used only in labs because they can weigh hundreds of pounds and take up as much space as three laser printers and an espresso machine), Microflow weighs less than 10 kg and takes up about the same space as a toaster. Microflow's small size and light-weight make it ideally suited for use in space, since it costs much more to launch heavier objects into space, and bulky objects are more difficult to stow aboard sleek spacecraft and the ISS." More

"This is a close-up view of the "spectrometer-on-a-chip" technology that could dramatically reduce the size of spectrometers in the future. (Credit: NASA Goddard/Chris Gunn) - The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) is big. It's powerful and it discovered, among other things, that Saturn's mysterious moon Enceladus was one of the very few worlds in the solar system that radiated several gigawatts of heat into space, primarily along prominent fractures dubbed "tiger stripes." If a team of technologists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., succeeds, however, scientists in the future won't observe these far-flung worlds with instruments the size of dishwashers. Rather, they will make their discoveries with dramatically smaller, more efficient models whose critical components fit onto a silicon wafer and do not require moving parts to operate -- unlike the breadbox-size components found inside the Goddard-developed CIRS, which flew on the flagship Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. "The Holy Grail is reducing the number of moving parts, which will allow us to build lighter, smaller instruments," said team member John Allen. "The smaller the device, the better. That's where the power of our effort really begins to take off." More

Mars, Everest, and Tricorders

Ocean Optics Spectrometers Land Safely on Mars

"Three Ocean Optics instruments have completed their eight month journey to Mars to study soil composition as part of the ChemCam mission. The company's modular Jaz spectrometer scaled Mt. Everest with a team that included NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski to measure solar irradiance at extreme altitude."

Using a Tricorder on Mount Everest

"If you've ever seen a Starfleet away team beaming down to a new planet, you know that the first thing they do is whip out their tricorder and scan everything. Many of NASA's astrobiologists want one. Well, Scott and I had one at Everest."

Keith's note: I carried this cool device up to Everest Base Camp and then Scott carried it up the mountain. Its not unusual for people to trek into Everest with the latest high tech gear on display but every time I pulled this thing out people stopped to watch me go through my procedure. I took this promo photo of Scott using the Jaz unit while we were standing next to our tents at Everest Base Camp. An instant later we heard a loud noise coming from the icefall. An instant later I switched my camera from still to video and shot this video. This was one of the largest avalanches in recent seasons. Had I not been taking the PR shot of Scott and the Jaz unit I'd have missed most of this avalanche.

The X PRIZE Foundation and Nokia today announced that team pre-registration is open for the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE. The competition will incentivize breakthroughs in sensor hardware and software that provide a new means of detecting and diagnosing disease and providing data that supports both wellbeing and any health issues. Teams may include individuals or groups from companies at any stage of development or funding; academic institutions; existing small/medium- sized companies; and non-profit organizations.

EPA Tricorder Challenge

U.S. Agencies Unveil Competition to Develop Personal Pollution Sensor, Science

"In a first, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is jumping into the science prize game. EPA, together with the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services, today announced a nationwide competition to develop new, highly portable sensors that can measure air quality while monitoring a person's physiological response to air pollution. Four finalists in the My Air, My Health Challenge will receive $15,000 and the opportunity to present a working prototype to judges, with $100,000 going to the winner."

My Air, My Health: An HHS/EPA Challenge

"Plans to develop personal devices are required - these must sensitively and frequently measure air quality, along with one or more physiological markers linked to the air quality metric that is measured. The system should be designed with input from a community or target population that would benefit from the solution. A design for a personal integrated system is required, together with a development plan and a proposal for a proof of concept study."

Open Source Tricorder Project

Star Trek-like open-source tricorder sees magnetic fields and more, MSNBC

"A person with that level of smarts, apparently, has enough brain power leftover in his spare time to invent tricorders, not to mention the greedlessness to share the blueprint with DIYers who want their own. Instructions are available from his Tricorder Project website. Like the Trek devices, Jansen's gadgets will measure the environment, things such as ambient temperature, humidity and magnetic fields, as well as take spatial readings for distance, location and even motion. They won't, however, identify aliens for you."

How to make your own tricorder, Smart planet

"Take one part open-source code, two parts OLED display, mix in a generous helping of curiosity and serve with a side of extra-delicious geekiness. That's your basic recipe for a real-life tricorder, as envisioned and modeled by Dr. Peter Jansen. The result is a handheld device with sensors for reading atmospheric, electromagnetic and spacial properties in the surrounding environment. Dr. Jansen's tricorder won't necessarily detect alien life-forms, but there's plenty of room to expand on his open-source design. Your mileage may vary."

Researcher publishes specs for real Linux-powered Star Trek tricorder, Ars Technica

"The Mark 2 tricorder, which is the more sophisticated of the two devices, runs Debian Linux on an ARM920T-based Amtel microcontroller. It is designed in a clamshell form factor, with a pair of OLED resistive touchscreen panels on the inside. Jansen's Mark 2 tricorder is powered by a lithium polymer battery (more energy efficient than the Mark 2 EMH, which is powered by Andy Dick) that fits inside the device's housing. The built-in sensors can measure temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields, color, ambient light level, GPS location, and distance to a surface."

NASA Ames RFI: Compact Technology to Detect Health-related Biomarkers or Analytes in Space

"NASA Ames Research Center is exploring the state-of-the-art in technologies to detect health-related biomarkers/analytes in space. For this Request for Information (RFI), NASA is seeking detailed information regarding compact technologies currently available that can analyze health-related biomarkers/analytes in breath, saliva, dermal emanations, blood, and urine using a single compact device. The specific biomarkers/analytes to be detected are currently under evaluation by NASA, but include a broad range of molecules and cells associated with health status, impact of the space environment on individual astronauts, and prediction of future health events. Analyses and analytes of interest include cell profiles, proteins and peptides, and small organic molecules."

A New Scanner Bed for Sickbay

Augmented Reality Promises Astronauts Instant Medical Knowhow

"A new augmented reality unit developed by ESA can provide just-in-time medical expertise to astronauts. All they need to do is put on a head-mounted display for 3D guidance in diagnosing problems or even performing surgery. The Computer Assisted Medical Diagnosis and Surgery System, CAMDASS, is a wearable augmented reality prototype. Augmented reality merges actual and virtual reality by precisely combining computer-generated graphics with the wearer's view. CAMDASS is focused for now on ultrasound examinations but in principle could guide other procedures."

Another NASA Tricorder

This Is NASA's Cancer-Sniffing Cellphone Sensor, Gizmodo

"What if you could use your phone to test the air for toxins? What if you could monitor your health simply by blowing on it? Sounds amazing, right? Nanosensor technology developed by NASA Ames is going to make that a reality."

Using T-Rays To Make Tricorders

T-rays technology could help develop Star Trek-style hand-held medical scanners

"Scientists have developed a new way to create electromagnetic Terahertz (THz) waves or T-rays - the technology behind full-body security scanners. The researchers behind the study, published recently in the journal Nature Photonics, say their new stronger and more efficient continuous wave T-rays could be used to make better medical scanning gadgets and may one day lead to innovations similar to the 'tricorder' scanner used in Star Trek."

NASA ARC Solicitation: Eye Tracker Systems

"NASA Ames invites responses to this inquiry for the purpose of purchasing three (3) eye tracker systems to support a task order under the Intelligent Systems Research and Development Support contract (ISRDS--NNA08CG83C). The purpose of the task is to undertake advanced development of the first prototype version of the Investigator Aid system. This version shall incorporate both improvements in existing routines and the ability to incorporate foreign language speech to text, visual, and specialized physiological data such as eye tracking and thermal imaging. The work is part of a longer-term research effort for the development of improved information validity assessment."

X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm Foundation Set to Revolutionize Healthcare With Launch of $10 Million Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE

"The X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm Foundation today announced the launch of the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE, a global competition to revolutionize healthcare. In this competition, teams will leverage technology innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence and wireless sensing -- much like the medical Tricorder of Star Trek(R) fame -- to make medical diagnoses independent of a physician or healthcare provider. The goal of the competition is to drive development of devices that will give consumers access to their state of health in the palm of their hand."

Building a Medical Tricorder

Scanadu Raises $2M For Medical Tricorder

"The company just raised $2 million in funding from a group of investors that includes Sebastien De Halleux, co-founder of social network game maker Playfish. The money's an impressive accomplishment considering Scanadu isn't even a year old. Founded in January 2011, the company is staffed with a team of visionaries like Walter De Brouwer. The Belgian futurist co-founded Starlab in 1996 with MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte. He first got the idea for the Tricorder while at Starlab but the technology wasn't mature enough at the time. In 2006 his son was in a serious accident and hospitalized for three months. De Brouwer again got to thinking about leveraging technology to empower people by allowing them to auto-diagnose and make informed decisions concerning health."

ESA's Blood Testing Tricorder Sensor

Spinning Blood Device Set to Safeguard Astronaut Health

"ESA has begun developing a new blood-testing device for astronauts on the International Space Station. A wide range of ailments from diabetes to heart disease should be diagnosable in moments from a single drop of astronaut blood. A pinprick of blood is added to a mini-disc embedded with a wide variety of miniaturised test procedures. The disc is then inserted into the 'point-of-care' device and set spinning to spread the blood sample across the surface."

Another Tricorder Mod For the iPhone

Researchers Transform iPhone Into High-quality Medical Imaging Device, Optical Society of America

"In a feat of technology tweaking that would rival MacGyver, a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis has transformed everyday iPhones into medical-quality imaging and chemical detection devices. With materials that cost about as much as a typical app, the decked-out smartphones are able to use their heightened senses to perform detailed microscopy and spectroscopy."

iPhone Used as a Chemical Sensing Tricorder

NASA Scientist Unveils New Chemical Detection Technology

"This new technology can enhance both personal and public safety by utilizing a common device, such as a cell phone, to detect hazardous chemicals," said Stephen Dennis, technical director of S&T's Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency. "Our goal is to create a lightweight, cost-effective, power-efficient resource for widespread public use."

How to Build a Borg Drone: First Step

Proton-based transistor could let machines communicate with living things, University of Washington

"Human devices, from light bulbs to iPods, send information using electrons. Human bodies and all other living things, on the other hand, send signals and perform work using ions or protons. Materials scientists at the University of Washington have built a novel transistor that uses protons, creating a key piece for devices that can communicate directly with living things. The study is published online this week in the interdisciplinary journal Nature Communications."

Think about this: imagine having this human/machine technology as a sensor system for crew health - this could be a quantum leap beyond the stick-on electrodes that have been used for half a century. It would certainly make it easier for Tricorders and sickbay to check up on the crew. It could also allow a more seamless interface between humans and remotely operated robotic arms, rovers, and other mechanical systems. Add in Wifi and ...

Tricorders for Astrobiology

Building the Tools for Astrobiology's Future, NAI

"The NASA Astrobiology program has selected eight new projects for funding under the Astrobiology Science and Technology for Instrument Development Program (ASTID). The ASTID program is an essential component in furthering NASA's astrobiology goals, and provides funding for new instruments that can be used in space missions as well as Earth-based research projects. ASTID projects turn novel concepts into laboratory instruments that will open new areas of study and the development of astrobiology mission concepts and payloads for future missions."

Researchers from Louisiana Tech University will be floating high above the Gulf of Mexico this month to conduct zero-gravity testing of an experimental DNA analysis instrument developed at Tech that could benefit future NASA astronauts. Dr. Niel Crews, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Collin Tranter, a graduate student with the Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM) say the instrument could be used to monitor the health of astronauts exposed to cosmic radiation beyond Earth's protective atmosphere. More

The X PRIZE Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization solving the world's Grand Challenges of our time by creating and managing large-scale, global incentivized competitions, today announced a collaboration with Qualcomm Incorporated to design the Tricorder X PRIZE, a $10 million prize to develop a mobile solution that can diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians. The X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm seeks to achieve this by combining advancements in expert systems and medical point of care data such as wireless sensors, advancements in medical imaging and microfluidics.

Image: Astronaut Scott Parazynski in May 2009 using a Jaz spectroradiometer from Ocean Optics at Everest Base Camp to measure solar irradiance [See "Using a Tricorder on Mount Everest"]

"A five-time astronaut, [Scott] Parazynski said he's especially eager to tackle projects in the fields of minimally invasive surgery and nanomedicine, with its potential to use targeted drugs to destroy tumors and plaques in arteries. Some inspiration, he admits, comes from Star Trek. "I'm hoping to leverage my background to create the next generation of minimally invasive surgery and diagnostic tools," Parazynski said. "As a physician growing up and watching Star Trek, we all wanted a medical tricorder. So one of the things I'd love to do is think big and push the envelope on what is possible." For those who don't grok Spock, a "tricorder "is a fictional device that can scan a person and immediately diagnose a disease or injury." More at Ultimate Clear Lake

Universal Translator v1.1

"The new app accepts voice input for 15 languages, and--just like the web app--you can translate a word or phrase into one of more than 50 languages. For voice input, just press the microphone icon next to the text box and say what you want to translate. You can also listen to your translations spoken out loud in one of 23 different languages. This feature uses the same new speech synthesizer voices as the desktop version of Google Translate we introduced last month." More

"Add diagnosing soft-tissue injuries to online banking, e-mail, video games and thousands of other applications available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The Food and Drug Administration ushered in the era of mobile diagnostic radiology Friday, approving software for viewing images and making medical diagnoses from MRIs and CT, PET and SPECT scans on several of Apple Inc.'s popular hand-held devices. The FDA reviewed image quality and checked studies with radiologists under variable lighting conditions and determined that the Apple devices running Mobile MIM software offered clear enough images for diagnostic interpretation." More at the Los Angleles Times

Image: MIM Software

Think of how this could faciliate collaboration between individuals in areas of the U.S. where English is a second langauge - or between teams scattered across the planet.

"Conversation Mode in Google Translate for Android: Google Translate's app for Android added a feature that has previously announced by Google: conversation mode. The new option is experimental and it only works for English and Spanish, so it's more like an early preview. Conversation mode is a fancy name for making it easy to have a conversation in two different languages." More

Image: ECG signals wirelessly transmitted to an Android mobile phone via a low-power interface. Click on the picture to download the high-res version.

Imec and Holst Centre, together with TASS software professionals have developed a mobile heart monitoring system that allows to view your electrocardiogram on an Android mobile phone. The innovation is a low-power interface that transmits signals from a wireless ECG (electrocardiogram or heart monitoring)-sensor system to an android mobile phone. With this interface, imec, Holst Centre and TASS are the first to demonstrate a complete Body Area Network (BAN) connected to a mobile phone enabling reliable long-term ambulatory monitoring of various health parameters such as cardiac performance (ECG), brain activity (EEG), muscle activity (EMG), etc. The system will be demonstrated at the Wireless Health Conference in San Diego (US, October 5-7).

More (video) below

University of Illinois chemistry professor Alexander Scheeline wants to see high school students using their cell phones in class. Not for texting or surfing the Web, but as an analytical chemistry instrument. A few basic, inexpensive components and a cellular pone are all high school students need to build a spectrometer, a widely used analytical chemistry instrument. Scheeline developed a method using a few basic, inexpensive supplies and a digital camera to build a spectrometer, an important basic chemistry instrument. Spectrophotometry is one of the most widely used means for identifying and quantifying materials in both physical and biological sciences. "If we want to measure the amount of protein in meat, or water in grain, or iron in blood, it's done by spectrophotometry," Scheeline said.

Tricorder For Future Sickbays

On an exploration mission, an astronaut has an accident and appears to have serious injuries as the spacecraft speeds to its destination. The ensuing scene is hectic as the other crew members try to get a grasp on the situation and provide appropriate treatment. Efficient use of time and resources may be the difference between life and death.

Engineers funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) are developing a system that will provide an accurate patient history, assist in treatment, and help astronauts be more efficient when providing medical care. Even though the integrated system is being developed for use in space, it can be used in many different locations, such as the emergency room, on the battlefield or at an accident scene. More

How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad... 23 years ago, Ars Technica

"To understand the thinking that led to the design of the Star Trek PADD, we spoke to some of the people involved in production of ST:TNG (as well as other Star Trek TV series and films), including Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda, and Doug Drexler. All three were involved in various aspects of production art for Star Trek properties, including graphic design, set design, prop design, visual effects, art direction, and more. We also discussed their impressions of the iPad and how eerily similar it is to their vision of 24th century technology, how science fiction often influences technology, and what they believe is the future of human-machine interaction."

At dusk, a car stops at a checkpoint in Afghanistan. It is a tense moment for all. Because an interpreter is not available, U.S. Marines use hand gestures to ask the driver to step out of the car and open the trunk and hood for inspection. There's a lot of room for error.

This scene was re-enacted recently during an evaluation at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)--but, this time, the Marine had a new smart phone-based device that translates his English into the driver's native Pashto and the Pashto back into English.

For the past four years, scientists at NIST have been conducting detailed performance evaluations of speech translation systems for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Previous systems used microphones and portable computers. In the most recent tests, the NIST team evaluated three two-way, real-time, voice-translation devices designed to improve communications between the U.S. military and non-English speakers in foreign countries.

Shown is the one-inch wide by three-inch long Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array that contains 388,000 probes that are used to detect viruses and bacteria. Photos by Jacqueline McBride/LLNL. Click to enlarge.

Law enforcement authorities seeking to detect bioterrorism attacks, doctors diagnosing diseases and regulatory agencies checking product safety may find a new ally in a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) detection technology.

The advance, known as the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), could enable law enforcement, medical professionals and others to detect within 24 hours any virus or bacteria that has been sequenced and included among the array's probes.

Developed between October 2007 and February 2008, the LLMDA detects viruses and bacteria with the use of 388,000 probes that fit in a checkerboard pattern in the middle of a one-inch wide, three-inch long glass slide.

A Hackable, Wrist-mounted Tricorder?

From Texas Instruments (available soon for $49.00): eZ430-Chronos Wireless Watch Development Tool (915 MHz US Version): "The eZ430-Chronos is a highly integrated, wireless development system based for the CC430 in a sports watch. It may be used as a reference platform for watch systems, a personal display for personal area networks, or as a wireless sensor node for remote data collection. Based on the CC430F6137 <1 GHz RF SoC, the eZ430-Chronos is a complete CC430-based development system contained in a watch. This tool features a 96 segment LCD display and provides an integrated pressure sensor and 3-axis accelerometer for motion sensitive control. The integrated wireless feature allows the Chronos to act as a central hub for nearby wireless sensors such as pedometers and heart rate monitors. The eZ430-Chronos offers temperature and battery voltage measurement and is complete with a USB-based CC1111 wireless interface to a PC. The eZ430-Chronos watch may be disassembled to be reprogrammed with a custom application and includes an eZ430 USB programming interface." [More at Ti]

Jing Li, a physical scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., along with other researchers working under the Cell-All program in the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, developed a proof of concept of new technology that would bring compact, low-cost, low-power, high-speed nanosensor-based chemical sensing capabilities to cell phones.

The device Li developed is about the size of a postage stamp and is designed to be plugged in to an iPhone to collect, process and transmit sensor data. The new device is able to detect and identify low concentrations of airborne ammonia, chlorine gas and methane. The device senses chemicals in the air using a "sample jet" and a multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip, which consists of 16 nanosensors, and sends detection data to another phone or a computer via telephone communication network or Wi-Fi.

More information and high resolution photos here.

"Usually I write about ham radio. But looking at communication devices of the future from the past, I thought it would be fun to have a Star Trek: The Original Series Bluetooth communicator for a cellphone. I worked with Dave Clausen to hack one together from a toy Star Trek communicator, a Bluetooth module, and a microcontroller. Following are the directions and program to make your own. And of course a video to show how the Star Trek Bluetooth Communicator works."

More at Make:

Android Open Data Kit

Getting developing world data with Android and Open Data Kit, Ars Technica

"In the developed world, getting real-time data can be a simple matter: simply carry whatever sensor is required, get the data, and then plug into the local network--you're set. Things aren't so simple in the developing world, where there may not even be a power source available, much less specialized hardware or a network. To help field workers obtain the information they need and integrate it into a data collection system, computer science researchers at the University of Washington have developed the Open Data Kit, which includes server software for aggregation and management, developer tools to create forms, and client software that runs on the Android platform."

The Cyborg Astrobiologist

In previous work, two platforms have been developed for testing computer-vision algorithms for robotic planetary exploration (McGuire et al. 2004b,2005; Bartolo et al. 2007). The wearable-computer platform has been tested at geological and astrobiological field sites in Spain (Rivas Vaciamadrid and Riba de Santiuste), and the phone-camera has been tested at a geological field site in Malta.

In this work, we (i) apply a Hopfield neural-network algorithm for novelty detection based upon color, (ii) integrate a field-capable digital microscope on the wearable computer platform, (iii) test this novelty detection with the digital microscope at Rivas Vaciamadrid, (iv) develop a Bluetooth communication mode for the phone-camera platform, in order to allow access to a mobile processing computer at the field sites, and (v) test the novelty detection on the Bluetooth-enabled phone-camera connected to a netbook computer at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.

News media are invited to see a demonstration of first-generation laboratory prototypes of new technology that would bring chemical sensing capabilities to cell phones on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009 at San Diego State University Regional Technology Center, San Diego, Calif.

Jing Li, a physical scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., along with other researchers working under the Cell-All program in the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, will demonstrate their proofs of concept. Li has developed a device, designed to be plugged in to an iPhone, which collects sensor data and sends it to another phone or a computer via telephone communication network or Wi-Fi.