Scanadu: The 'Star Trek' Medical Tricorder Becomes a Reality

In 2013, a man bilked investors into funding a medical device that worked like the Star Trek tricorder. He even named it after the grumpy doctor who used in on the iconic show -- The "McCoy Home Health Tablet."

The man's "investment opportunity" was a scam, and according to the National Post, he was convicted for bilking people out of their money. However, just a little over a year later, a new tricorder like device, called the Scanadu Scout, has become a reality. And it works.

The device, pictured below, works by placing it on a patient's forehead. In a matter of seconds, a sensor measures vitals such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. It even provides a complete ECG reading.

Scanadu medical scanner
Scanadu medical scanner.

The device came about after a successful crowdfunding campaign, and begins shipping to backers at the end of July, 2015.

The Scanadu is the invention of Walter De Brouwer, a Belgian entrepreneur, who came up with the idea after his son suffered brain damage from a fall.

De Brouwer told CNN that he got his inspiration from Star Trek, which he said was "more than just a movie, it was a business plan."

The tricorder in Star Trek was only used by a doctor, but De Brouwer says that the Scanadu can be used by anyone.

"We've medicalised [sic] your smartphone," he said.

"You can now check your health as easily as your email. People will no longer ask if there's a doctor on the plane, but if there's a Tricorder."
The Scanadu is pending FDA approval, so is not available for purchase to the general public yet, but backers from the Indiegogo funding campaign have received it and are providing real world testing.Scanadu is also working on a complete home urine test kit called Scanaflow.The medical tricorder isn't the only device inspired by Star Trek. This Inquisitr article featured communication devices for emergency first responders based on the Starfleet comm badge.

[Photos via Bruno Vincent/Getty Images and Britt+Co]