Want your own tricorder? They are under development but not available. Yet.

A full-blown tricorder like McCoy or Spock used is still a ways off.  Development is in progress.

That’s the story from The dream of the tricorder in The Economist.

Smart phones will be the platform for the day we do have functioning tricorders.

In the meantime, we are seeing single-function devices that have a special app and plug-in device.

The X Prize Foundation has set up a $10 million reward for the first outfit that can analyze and diagnose a battery of 15 different conditions.

The technology is moving on with lots of teams working on their own plan.

Obstacles will be the FDA, who will likely want to step in, probably about the time the tools really takes off.

The other obstacle will be the cautious nature of the medical community.

Why would you visit a specialist, he asks, when a mobile device lets you test your eyes, diagnose skin lesions or determine whether your child has an ear infection? But as medicine becomes more of an information science, some mundane and simple tasks could be taken over by patients, which could free up doctors for more demanding problems, argues Mr Jones.

A device that can actually do diagnostic work will take work away from doctors. I get it.

On the other hand, think of the time that doctors would free up to deal with more difficult stuff or behavioral issues that a program can’t address.  Take care of the ear infection at home so the doctor will have a few more minutes to figuring out a complicated case. Or to understand patients at a deeper level than the immediate symptoms.

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