Dr. Leonard McCoy had it easy. To diagnose maladies aboard the fictional Star Ship Enterprise, he whipped out a tricorder: a hand-held gizmo that scanned and diagnosed the patient instantly. Now Aezon Health, a team of 15 Hopkins undergraduates, is trying to make that fiction a reality as one of 30 teams around the world—and the only team made up of undergraduates—competing in the qualifying round for the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. The three-and-a-half-year international competition, which began in summer 2013, challenges teams to develop consumer-friendly “tricorders” capable of diagnosing a set of 15 conditions and capturing key health metrics.
“Hopkins student design teams engineer solutions to dozens of global health problems every year, so we knew Hopkins was the perfect environment in which to attempt the XPRIZE challenge,” says team manager Tatiana Rypinski a junior biomedical engineering major. Aezon’s system consists of a unit that monitors vital signs, a smartphone app, and a cloud database that stores patient test results for use later by doctors and patients through an online portal. After the Aezon tricorder scans for diseases ranging from strep throat to urinary tract infections, it actually advises the user how to proceed.