Scanadu: The medical Tricorder from Star Trek is here

(CNN)In 2013, an Illinois man convinced several investors to fund a revolutionary medical device, to the tune of over $25 million.

He called it the “McCoy Home Health Tablet”, and promised it would instantly deliver patient data to doctors.

In other words, he was pitching the legendary Tricorder from Star Trek, even naming it after Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, the blue-clad, very irritable medical officer from the 1960s show.

It was a scam. The device didn’t exist, and the man was caught and convicted for his crimes. But as a testimony to how quickly reality catches up with fantasy nowadays, less than two years later the Tricorder does exist. And it works.

The Bluetooth doctor
It’s called “Scanadu Scout” — after Xanadu, an ancient city of great splendor and scientific progress, made famous by English poet S. T. Coleridge — and the greatest thing about it is that it’s not a design concept, nor a million-dollar prototype, but an actual product. After a successful crowdfunding round via Indiegogo, the Scanadu has began shipping to backers at the end of January.

It is a tiny, round and rigorously white device — even though a black version is in the plans — and it works by placing it on one’s forehead.

Through its sensor, and in a matter of seconds, the Scanadu measures heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, oxygen level and provides a complete ECG reading.

Just like “Bones”
The device is the brainchild of Walter De Brouwer, a Belgian entrepreneur who had to learn how hospitals work — and don’t work — the hard way after his son suffered brain damage as the consequence of a fall.

His inspiration came directly from science fiction: “Star Trek was more than just a movie, it was a business plan,” he told CNN’s Nick Glass.

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