Dr. Erik Viirre, is the medical and technical director of the QUALCOMM Tricorder Xprize. The folks at XPrize create, design and administrate competitions that foster advancement in technology, science and engineering. The competitions result in great leaps in the areas of space exploration, learning, ecology and more.
Dr. Viirre is an MD, PhD, who focuses on neuro science, vertigo and tinnitus. He’s an adjunct professor, at UCSD working in Neuro Sciences, Surgery and Cognitive Science disciplines. Erik is also a start-up pro through companies like Zero G corp, and Auto Sound LLC. This mix of experience makes Erik uniquely qualified to be the medical and technical director for the Tricorder XPrize; he’s also our guest on this episode of Popping the Bubbl.
Wait? Did we just say Tricorder? YES!
“We’ve been on a long, long road...a five-year mission,” said Erik, “We’re trekkies, and you know, we don’t want to wait for the 23rd century; we want these things now.”
XPrize founder Peter Diamandis designed XPrize to create things like the tricorder that benefitted humanity. As Dr. Viirre notes, Peter’s technology are the prizes. Erik expands further, “Our job is to make these teams successful. Even when teams don’t win the big prize, we are rewarding bold innovative advancements.” These prizes and the prestige associated with being in the competition makes all of the teams winners and that benefits all of us.
Paul Jacobs, former Qualcomm CEO, is the director of the Qualcomm Foundation. Jacobs wanted to encourage the development of a Tricorder. Making medical assessment mobile and accessible fits nicely within the foundation’s goal to improve health regardless of where someone lives. With the foundation’s funds and XPrize’s platform, the Tricorder challenge was born.
How soon is now?
Dr. Basil Harris’ team, New Frontier Medical Devices won the competition in April 2017. Check out the episode of Popping the Bubbl (click here) that covers Dr. Harris and his team’s efforts. Their device does a non-invasive scan for 34 medical issues; that number is steadily growing. By creating a mobile medical scanning device, Dr. Harris has changed how people will evaluate their health and created a higher level of individual patient care. Their product should advance through FDA approval soon making DxtER available for about $200.
What are the prizes?
New Frontier Medical Devices, as the overall winner took home a prize for $2.5 million. The Dynamical Biomarkers Group from Taiwan won the 2nd prize and took home a giant check for $1,000,000.
While only 2 teams make the finals, the other teams still get to win and say, “Hey, we’ve got some innovative stuff on board.” Cloud DX won $100k and the Bold Innovator Award.
As Mr. Diamandis desired, winning an XPRIZE check flattens the ramp for the companies as they seek funding to advance their product. The teams’ improved access to funds speeds critical outcomes like: getting products like DxtER approved through the FDA, moving past the guess work a doctor is faced with once a patient arrives in crisis, aggregating data to allow care facilities to anticipate disease, emergencies and needs, getting diagnostics where it’s needed most; and that is great for all of humanity.
The Tricorder is just a step, but a crucial step that XPRIZE and the Qualcomm Foundation have made possible.