Have you ever wished that all the cool devices they had on 'Star Trek' were real?  I have.  The fictional gadget I want to have in real life is the tricorder.  This device read biological, meteorological and geological information in a hand-held device just by scanning the object in question.  I especially liked the medical tricorder, which diagnosed diseases and collected bodily information using a high-resolution scanner.

As I learned in my last blog post, "Star Trek" is a major influence on our current technology innovations, resulting in sci-fi technology becoming a reality.  So I decided to explore devices that could be real life tricorders.  I wanted to know if I could find a hand-held device that can diagnose disease, collect bodily information, and be used for multiple purposes (as in not disease specific).

The first device I found was created by Georgia Tech's Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access.  It's a hand-held gadget that captures an image and identifies sub-skin tissues by reading different wavelengths coming from the skin.  The device was made with the intention of identifying bruises and erythema, which is redness of the skin caused by capillary congestion.  Being able to identify bruises turns out to be a very complicated, and the faster a bruise or cut is identified, the better the treatment.  Georgia Tech says that this technology has the potential to identify tumors at an early stage sometime in the near future.

The second potential tricorder is a hand-held medical scanner.  Harvard Medical School researchers have created a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) imaging machine, replacing cumbersome equipment previously used.  The device is 800 times more sensitive than the full sized lab equipment.  By taking a small fluid sample, the scanner detects various molecules.  The device can identify bacteria at the present time and development has started for it to identify cancer and test blood sugar.

Which one do you think has more tricorder potential?

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx, who helps customers acheive per-person, per-project profitability.