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4th September 2014

Test yourself with a lab the size of a deck of cards

You wake up feeling a bit under the weather. It could be the flu, or maybe your low on Vitamin D? What if you could check right then and there with your morning coffee what exactly is happening to your body?

While wearables and self-tracking are rushing to give us more and more power over our health by feeding us all this information we cannot live without, the home diagnostics market is still in its infancy.

Cue hit the news a couple of weeks ago, with its at-home lab testing device, the size of a deck of cards. Can it check for diseases? It’s getting there: for the time being it can measure vitamin D, inflammation, influenza, fertility and testosterone levels. The breakthrough is that you can take your own sample, place it in the lab and get your results in a few minutes on your phone.

Then of course you get advice, alerts, access to specials such as the FluMap and a ton of graphs on your screen.

 Photo Credit: Cue

The only one? Not exactly.

XPrize awards launched a competition together with Qualcomm called the Tricorder award (in honour of Star trek’s famed tricorder) offering the winner a $10 million prize for making a device that can track key health metrics (heart rate, breathing patterns, blood pressure, ECG and so on) and is able to diagnose a set of 15 diseases (including diabetes, TB, HIV, stroke, or mononucleosis). All this right at home without you having to go to your doctor or have your sample sent to a lab.

Is this Sci-fi? Not really.

Scanadu’s Scout has received the lion’s share of the attention among contestants for the prize and its soon-to-ship prototype promises an overview of your vitals (heart rate, temperature, or blood pressure) by placing the device next to your forehead. Aezon’s “health in a box” also promises to diagnose diseases such as a urinary tract infection or strep throat delivering test results right on your smartphone.

The vision is shared: create a device that makes health checkups part or your daily route, somewhere between brushing your teeth and jumping in the shower.

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