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Every Star Trek fan will love this. And yes of course the lives of the people the project eventually will save.

“A real-life diagnostic device that does something akin to what the tricorder did on “Star Trek” just might earn its developers $10 million prize. And yes, the proposed competition is actually being called the Tricorder X Prize. It’s just one more example of life imitating “Trek.” In the words of Mr. Spock: Fascinating!

The objective of the project, currently being explored by the X Prize Foundation and Qualcomm, is not just to create one more cool gadget for “Trek” fans … although the idea of a hand-held, automated medical diagnostic device is pretty cool. The objective is to extend the reach of health information and services to billions more people in the world.

“We believe this is a fundamental step in helping people become true ‘health consumers’ who can have as much say in assessing and accessing health care as they would any other service or product,” Don Jones, vice president of wireless health strategy and market development at Qualcomm Labs, said in this week’s announcement about the project. “Qualcomm believes the value of this X Prize is also in changing the cost structure and focus of health care. By having consumers take the initial actions to obtain health assessment data, the use and the quality of physicians’ time is improved.

The competition is modeled on earlier incentive programs such as the $10 million Ansari X Prize for private-sector spaceflight, or the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize for super-efficient road vehicles. The basic idea is to encourage the development of mobile devices that can diagnose patients at least as well as a panel of board-certified physicians.”

Am I the only one who owns a Tricorder app for iPhone?