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Meet the Scanadu Scout, the real-life ‘Star Trek’ tricorder

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The real McCoys (Credit: Paramount/Scanadu)

No Bones about it -- the Star Trek tricorder has been beamed down.

An integral part of the U.S.S. Enterprise's sick bay, the handheld medical scanner used on the original show by Dr. Leonard McCoy has been transformed into a real-world tool for today's doctors and nurses, both in hospitals and in homes.

Of course, it's not called the tricorder. That would be too easy (and likely infringe upon a number of copyright laws). But the Scanadu Scout has plenty in common with Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future of medicine.

Built to work with your Android or iOS phone, the device can measure a patient's heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, stress level, respiration and ECG in a mere 10 seconds, according to its inventor.

To get readings from the sensor, you simply hold it to a patient's temple. The device then sends those readings to a smartphone app, which tracks the data over time and watches for patterns.

"People can get access information about health and connect to each other about health, but the piece that is missing is that people can’t get information about their own body," said founder Walter De Brouwer in an interview with VentureBeat. "By getting precision diagnostics into the hands of people, this can enable them to get early detection and to inform their conversations with their doctor in the ways that haven’t been possible"

Units are expected to begin shipping in March 2014 and will sell for $199.

The Scout, which has 106 components, is being touted by its maker as "the biggest innovation in home medicine since the invention of the thermometer." There will be home and professional versions, with the Scanadu for doctors having more detailed information.

First unveiled last November, the Scanadu took the crowdfunding route to help pay research and development costs. It still has a few days left, but has already shattered IndieGoGo records, raising $1.5 million after initially seeking just $100,000.

While it bears an obvious resemblance to the legendary Star Trek device, Brouwer says the show wasn't the inspiration for the Scanadu. That came when his son was in an accident and hospitalized for a year. To feel less helpless, Brouwer began tracking the hospital machine readings in an excel spreadsheet, which sparked the idea.

Now if we can just get someone to start working on the transporters...

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