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Introducing a Fully Functional Star Trek Tricorder

Beaming in the Wand Company's latest Trek replica.

Designed to work just like the fantasy version imagineered in the 1960s, with more than a little help from some 21st century technology, a full-colour LCD displays information stored in the Tricorder along with dynamic data gathered by its sensors and audio recording function.

With a target retail price of $250 USD, Star Trek fans can now look forward to measuring the environment, scanning radio frequencies, recording audio, impressing their friends, and enjoying the fact that they’ll own perhaps the most sophisticated prop replica ever designed and manufactured. The Tricorder will be available in summer 2021 directly from The Wand Company Shop, the official Star Trek Shop, and other selected terrestrial retailers. If fans want to be the first to hear about product updates and pre-order availability, they should register their interest The Wand Company's online store .

An adult Gorn in EV suit stands face-to-face with Spock on the destroyed saucer of the U.S.S. Cayuga in 'Hegemony'

star trek mark x tricorder

Saturday, December 27, 2008

  • Star Trek: First Contact Mark X Tricorder

star trek mark x tricorder

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My Design & Production Portfolio

star trek mark x tricorder

Star Trek: Tricorder Mark X - Work in Progress

A 3d design based on the g. mros diy assembly guide dimensions, this is a work in progress . . ..

star trek mark x tricorder

A talented modeler named Gerhard Mros sells a DIY guide to building your own replica from polystyrene, but when we first got the form printer in our workshop, I knew I had to give it a real workout. It took several months to gin up the 3D object the way I wanted it, but ultimately, it was ready to print.


I started by redrawing the side, front, top elevations in Inventor then extruded the simple shapes into 3D form. Since the model would be 3D printed, there was no need to worry about undercuts inside the body, unlike resin models which require thick walls and a split across the long axis.

From here, I had to examine the real needs I would have in making this a fully electronic 3D model . To be continued . . .

Building the Tricorder: The race to create a real-life Star Trek medical scanner


Its vision of romantic encounters with aliens and plagues of tribbles may not have come to pass just yet, but Star Trek has proved surprisingly accurate in predicting the future in other ways.

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When it comes to technology, the show's gadgets have already become reality in several cases: its communicator predicted the clamshell mobile phone, the food replicator was made real with 3D food printing , and Captain Kirk was using voice input long before Alexa became a household name.

But of all Star Trek's technological imaginings, it's the Tricorder that continues to capture the popular and scientfic imagination: a handheld medical device that could be used to analyse a patient, helping doctors diagnose and treat the crew on the bridge and beyond.

No blood tests, no X-rays, no genetic sequencing: Star Trek's doctors could just point their tricorders at the patient and seconds later work out if they'd succumbed to a cold or the Quazulu VIII virus.

The Tricorder continues to fascinate because it magically solves some of the problems about medicine we still have today: it takes too long, it's expensive, it's uncertain, and the times you need it most -- when you're far from home -- is often when it's unavailable.

People have been trying to make replicate elements of the Tricorder since the 1990s. But it's only in the last few years that the dream of creating a genuine Tricorder-type device has seemed within reach.

The first signs that a medical Tricorder could be more than a sci-fi fantasy coincided with the emergence of the first serious smartphones and tablets. Back in 2007, MIT researchers used a Nokia 770 as the basis for a Tricorder , displaying information from sensor networks, while a few years later, a rash of medical peripherals released for the iPhone offered the hope that Apple's mobile could be turned into a real-life Tricorder .

Such early discussions focused on customising existing mobile hardware to a medical diagnostic device; the first standalone device would be a few years further on.

SEE MORE ON OUR NHS REPORT: VR, AR and the NHS: How virtual and augmented reality will change healthcare

One of the first companies to make a serious attempt at creating a Tricorder was Scanadu, which released a device called the Scout in 2015 .The Scout could measure a handful of vital signs -- blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and temperature -- by being held up to a patient's forehead. It's not quite the Tricorder's no-touch technique, and had no diagnostic capabilities, but it was arguably further towards such a device than any hardware before it. After raising $1.7m on Indiegogo, and several million dollars more from investors , the Scout eventually went on sale. However, the company had released it under the banner of a " research device for investigational use ". When it subsequently failed to win FDA approval -- for unspecified reasons -- the research effectively came to an end, and devices were bricked, leaving buyers furious .

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Despite the Scout's difficulties, there was no shortage of companies that were looking to succeed were Scanadu had failed.

As befits a potentially game-changing and technologically-complex device, the Tricorder concept had caught Google's eye. Back in 2014, the head of life sciences at what was then Google X, the company's moonshot division, announced a cancer-detection system that would lay the foundations for the creation of a Tricorder. The system that Dr Andrew Conrad announced aimed to use magnetic nanoparticles that would attach themselves to cancer particles; a separate wrist-worn device would measure the particles to detect cancer. The system would over time form part of a real-life Tricorder, Conrad said.

"Instead [of] going to the doctor who says, 'Let me draw blood and in three days I'll call you if there's anything wrong,' the doctor can look and say, 'Oh, I just checked all your blood over this last year, and it looks like your kidneys are good, your liver is good, I don't see any indication of oncologic cells, pretty good, thanks.' ... We want to have a Tricorder where Dr. McCoy will wave this thing and say, 'Oh, you're suffering from Valerian death fever.' And he'd then give some shot in a person's neck and they'd immediately get better. We won't do the shots -- our partners will do the shots. But we're hoping to build the Tricorder," he told Medium at the time.

Since then, Google and its X division have been reorganised: Google's life sciences arm has become Verily, now overseen -- along with Google and other Google spinouts, including Calico -- by a new parent company Alphabet . Conrad remains head of Verily, but his dream of a Star Trek-grade medical device has not come to pass: Verily has yet to showcase any progress on building either the cancer-detection system or the Tricorder itself.

A spokesperson for Verily says its nanoparticles research is still active, but added it had experienced difficulties in the past: "Our nanoparticle research is focused on developing nanoparticles that demonstrate consistent properties. We found that nanoparticles we purchased from third-party manufacturers have been unreliable in research due to inconsistencies."

The $10m prize

Arguably one of the biggest stimulants for building a Tricorder came when chipmaker Qualcomm sponsored the Tricorder XPRIZE , a competition intended to help foster the creation of innovative medical hardware.

Rather than asking for a machine that can read vitals to help diagnose any number of illnesses, the XPRIZE asked for hardware that could diagnose a set list of 13 medical condition, including anaemia and diabetes, as well as monitor a handful of vital signs.

The prize, launched in 2011, was won last year by Basil Leaf Technologies with a device called DxtER , a small unit with a range of specific medical peripherals, including a sensor for heart and lung sounds, an ECG monitor for measuring heart rate and rhythm, and a device for analysing blood glucose and white cell count, a sign of infection and inflammation when raised.

By winning the prize, the inventors -- a group of siblings and others led by Philadelphia-based emergency room physician Basil Harris -- received a $2.6m grant to help take the DxtER from concept to commercialisation.

However, the first publicly available device based on this technology is likely to have a far smaller scope than Bones' Tricorder. Basil Leaf Technologies is working on creating a monitoring device for a single disease state, congestive cardiac failure (CCF), that a patient could keep with them at home to help monitor the progress of their condition. The aim is for a person with CCF, a chronic condition, to interact with the device a couple of times a day, and that information to be sent back to a medical professional to review. With such longitudinal monitoring, a doctor can monitor the patient's progress regularly without having to ask them to take time out of their days to come in for regular check-ups.

"A diagnostic device that can diagnose one of 13 medical conditions is not really that viable -- a first year medical resident can diagnose 75 to 100 medical conditions. We just designed something to win a prize, but it's not something that's useful out in the marketplace yet. And if you think about how the FDA in the United States approves medical devices, if we sought an approval for a medical device that did a large collection of medical conditions, it would take aeons to be approved. From a strategic point of view, we changed our strategy and said let's focus on one disease state," Phil Charron, head of user experience at Basil Leaf Technologies, tells ZDNet.

SEE MORE ON OUR NHS REPORT: Why the NHS is killing paper records to save lives

Nonetheless, Basil Leaf Technologies is still working towards creating a Tricorder in the way that most people think of it: a single device that can diagnose a range of conditions. For a real-life Tricorder to serve as a universal diagnostic tool in the way that Star Trek envisioned, it would need to be able to analyse far more biomarkers than the DxtER currently does.

Handily, scientists are also working on expanding the capabilities of Tricorder-like devices. Earlier this year, researchers from the University of Glasgow created a handheld sensor device based on a CMOS chip that can analyse a number of metabolites in blood or urine, analysing them to diagnose conditions including heart attacks.

Elsewhere, companies are working on creating Tricorder type hardware with a focus on infectious disease: the Q-POC, made by QuantumDx, is expected to launch next year, and brings handheld diagnostics for bacterial and viral infections. The idea of the Q-POC is putting short-read genetic sequencing into a device the size of a smartphone: with a sample of bodily fluid, the reader could pick up not only the nature of an infection, like TB, but also its resistance to particular drugs. The technology already exists and is in common use, but shrinking it down to a device that can fit in a pocket is QuantumDx's real challenge.

The fact that the company has had to put back the Q-POC's launch date from 2016 to 2019 shows that miniaturisation is no small task. In fact, it's one of the key challenges that exists for building a Tricorder: the technology that doctors use to diagnose illnesses already exists, but it often exists in large, discrete machines, often spread around different parts of a hospital. Tricorders have to bring all of those capabilities into a single device that can be carried by one person.

"Most of the technologies that exist out there we can turn into something we can put into the patient's hands, I think that [the challenge] is more about shrinking the technologies that exist. A lot of the things that a physician can do in a regular exam room we put in a Tricorder. Labs and radiology -- that's the difficult thing to shrink down into a Tricorder," Basil Leaf Technologies' Charron says.

As well as difficulties with hardware, creating the right software for Tricorders is likely a number of years away. Creating algorithms that can diagnose certain conditions from a tight set of physical biomarkers is one thing, but there's an old adage in medicine that 'if you listen hard enough, the patient will tell you the diagnosis'. To be a universal diagnostic device, Tricorders will not only have to interpret test results, they'll also need software that knows the right questions to ask and unpick the answers they get back: a patient saying they have a tight chest pain and a sharp chest pain might sound similar, but could be the difference between a full blown heart attack or pericarditis -- a painful, but relatively benign, infection of the heart's covering.

"Our expectations about the medical tricorder stem from Star Trek and it's never a good decision to base expectations on science fiction, even though many technologies have become real from science fiction in the 21st century," says Dr Bertalan Meskó, director of The Medical Futurist Institute . And it doesn't mean we won't need doctors, Meskó says.

"There is a reason why we train medical professionals for decades and artificial intelligence-based algorithms, tricorders and many other advanced technologies are designed to upgrade their capabilities so they can use their unique vision, expertise and experience while focusing on the patients. The tricorder should make this possible instead of replacing what physicians do today."

Though the challenges to a medical Tricorder remain substantial, technology companies show no signs of waning enthusiasm for the device. That's because the potential applications for such hardware are huge. Many of the companies working on the tech today envision their machines being used by healthcare staff that aren't doctors to go do some of the run-of-the-mill diagnostic legwork, calling in doctors only for the trickiest of cases.

And, aside from managing consultants' workloads better, Tricorders could potentially make a much more significant contribution to medicine. Imagine an area -- be it in rural Europe or rural Africa -- where population density is lower, and the provision of medical care is even more sparse. Instead of having to drive for hours or even days to find a doctor the next time you take sick, a Tricorder in the home or local clinic could help you to decide whether you need to get to the nearest A&E or take a couple of aspirin and sleep off the fever.

"A working tricorder could bring about a new era in medicine," says Meskó.

Instead of expensive machines and long waiting times, information would be available immediately. Physicians could scan a patient, or patients could scan themselves and receive a list of diagnostic options and suggestions. "Imagine the influence it could have on underdeveloped regions. It should not substitute for medical supervision, but when there is none it comes in handy. Also, it would make the biggest promise of digital health real: making patients the point-of-care. Technologically, it's absolutely viable," says Meskó.

Perhaps the most interesting use of the Tricorder takes us right back to the device's sci-fi conception. Should humans ever attempt more long-distance space travel, a Tricorder would be a must: a manned mission to Mars could see astronauts travel for weeks or months without access to the full repertoire of medical support.

A sufficiently advanced Tricorder could help astronauts keep in good health during the journey. Without it, it's hard to imagine how the next generation of astronauts will be able to boldly go where no one has gone before.


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Limited Run   Star Trek Mark IX Science and Mark X Medical Tricorder Electronic Upgrade kits

  • Thread starter gmprops
  • Start date Sep 8, 2022
  • Tags electronics star trek ds9 star trek the next generation star trek tricorder star trek tricorder. star trek scanner star trek voyager


  • Sep 8, 2022

star trek mark x tricorder

  • Sep 13, 2022

Any interest at all in these kits? Still have many available.  

  • Sep 20, 2022

Hoping that there is someone interested in a set of these electronics. I also do full "hero" builds of these tricorders if anyone is interested. Just PM me for more information. (All of the photos I have displayed are tricorders that were built by me.)  

  • Sep 26, 2022

Several available but I may need to pull this run in favour of other projects.  

  • Sep 27, 2022

Only 5 of each style available  

  • Oct 4, 2022

Many sets still available, but not for long.  

  • Oct 7, 2022

Just bumping this up for the weekend  

  • Oct 25, 2022

Any interest? If there are other Trek prop electronics you are looking for, just let me know.  

  • Oct 30, 2022
gmprops said: Any interest? If there are other Trek prop electronics you are looking for, just let me know. Click to expand...
AKinnaird said: Do you have a kit for the hand scanner accessory with sound included? Click to expand...



  • Nov 1, 2022
kennscustoms said: Gerry, I'm interested in the Mk X Medical kit. I have a Stapleton body that needs some wizbang... How do I order? Click to expand...
  • Nov 6, 2022

Still have a few available. PM me.  

  • Sunday at 6:31 PM
gmprops said: About 6 weeks ago I had a bit of an accident and have been recovering at home. During that time I have been building prop electronics to fill orders for prop builders. But my bills have been piling up so I started to create runs of electronic circuit boards for upgrading TNG-era phasers and tricorders. I am happy to report that I doing a run of Mark IX Science and Mark X Medical tricorder circuits to upgrade your props. They are specifically designed to fit the Stapleton body kits but they have been tested in Roddenberry kits and 3D printed kits successfully. View attachment 1615084 View attachment 1615078 You can place an order now for either one of these versions of tricorder electronics upgrade kits. The Mark IX Science electronics are only $135US each. (Includes LiPo battery system and charging cable.) The Mark X Medical electronics are only $155US each. (Includes electronics module for hand held scanner, LiPo battery system and charging cable.) PM me if you would like to get in on this limited run (only 5 of each are available). View attachment 1615079 View attachment 1615085 View attachment 1615080 View attachment 1615081 View attachment 1615083 Medical bills are piling up, so if you are looking to upgrade your tricorder prop it would be a big help to me. Thanks! Click to expand...

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star trek mark x tricorder

Star Trek: Discovery Debuts Starfleets Most Advanced Tricorder Ever

WARNING: Contains SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 6, "Whistlespeak."

  • Star Trek: Discovery's new eye implant tricorder is a futuristic upgrade from the classic handheld versions.
  • Captain Burnham and Lt. Tilly use their discreet retinal tricorders on an away mission to a pre-warp planet.
  • The 32nd-century setting of Star Trek: Discovery allows for more advanced and practical tricorder technology.

Star Trek: Discovery just introduced the most advanced tricorder ever seen in the Star Trek franchise. Tricorders have been a staple of Star Trek landing parties and away teams since Star Trek: The Original Series, but their look and functions have been updated over time. TOS was obviously limited by the technology of the 1960s, while modern Trek shows like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds are limited by their place in the Star Trek timeline. One of the coolest parts about Discovery's jump to the 32nd century is that the show can use modern CGI and special effects technology to upgrade the imaginary technology of the far futur e.

In Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 6 , "Whistlespeak," Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Lt. Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) go on an away mission to a pre-warp planet in their continuing pursuit of the Progenitors' technology. Since Burnham and Tilly must blend in to avoid breaking the Prime Directive, they cannot carry Starfleet's advanced equipment. To remain discrete, Burnham and Tilly insert implants into their eyes that function like tricorders, scanning the objects around them and sending data to the crew members on the USS Discovery. Discovery's time jump allowed the creators to depict truly futuristic-looking technology without breaking Star Trek canon, and the eye implant tricorders are a great example of that.

Written by Kenneth Lin and Brandon Schultz and directed by Chris Byrne, "Whistlespeak" slows the pace of Discovery season 5 to tell a classic Star Trek story, complete with weather-controlling computers and Prime Directive complications.

Star Trek: Discovery's Mary Wiseman On Tilly's Season 5 Arc & Burnham Friendship

Star trek: discoverys new tricorder is an eye implant, discovery just introduced a new and very cool piece of 32nd-century tech..

The away mission in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 6, "Whistlespeak," finds Captain Burnham and Lt. Sylvia Tilly joining up with a group of villagers on a pilgrimage to the high summit on the planet Helem’no. Discovery's crew already determined that the pillar of stone that represents the high summit is actually a Denobulan weather tower. This technology not only controls the planet's environment but is also the location of the next of the Progenitors' five clues . Burnham and Tilly both make good use of their new retinal tricorders, as they take in their surroundings in search of the controls for the weather tower and a way to get into the temple.

This is the kind of technology that makes Star Trek feel truly futuristic.

Not only are Star Trek: Discovery's new tricorders more discreet (aside from a glowing blue eye), but they also provide real-time three-dimensional scans to those on board the ship. This proves useful on two occasions, when Burnham scans a log hiding the computer's controls and when Tilly scans the inside of the high summit temple. The retinal tricorders allow their users to display information about objects in their field of view without the need for an external display. This is the kind of technology that makes Star Trek feel truly futuristic, and it's also a very practical upgrade for an iconic piece of Trek tech.

Star Trek: Tricorders Have Gotten Smaller Over The Years

From clunky and cumbersome to handheld to tiny and discreet..

Like technology in the real world, Star Trek's tricorders have gotten smaller over the years. Much like telephones went from clunky landlines to flip phones to sleek touchscreens, tricorders have seen a similar progression. On Star Trek: The Original Series, away teams carried box-shaped tricorders with shoulder straps and removable scanners. The tricorders of the Star Trek: The Next Generation era were slimmer and more handheld, but still required the user to hold the device near the object they were scanning and then manually read the display.

Lt. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine once raved about the USS Enterprise tricorder's "classic 23rd-century design."

Star Trek: Discovery 's eye implants are not only tiny in comparison to previous tricorders, but they also appear to provide more comprehensive information. When Burnham scans the weather tower's control panel, Ensign Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio) receives a three-dimensional rendering of the panel. From the bridge of the USS Discovery, Adira can see almost exactly what Burnham is seeing and talk her through how to reset the controls. Star Trek: Discovery's 32nd-century setting has allowed the show to truly go where no Star Trek has gone before, and the new tricorders are one of the show's coolest new technologies.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery stream Thursdays on Paramount+.

Star Trek: Discovery

Cast Blu del Barrio, Oded Fehr, Anthony Rapp, Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Wilson Cruz, Eve Harlow, Mary Wiseman, Callum Keith Rennie

Release Date September 24, 2017

Showrunner Alex Kurtzman

Where To Watch Paramount+

Star Trek: Discovery Debuts Starfleets Most Advanced Tricorder Ever

Memory Alpha

Medical tricorder

  • View history

The medical tricorder was a specialized version of the standard Starfleet tricorder . It was equipped with sensors and analysis software tailored for medical diagnostic purposes. They were usually the first tool a Starfleet doctor utilized when assessing a patient's condition. Medical tricorders could function aboard ship in sickbay as well as on away missions . ( TOS : " The Man Trap ")

  • 2 Functions
  • 3.1.1 2150s
  • 3.2 23rd century
  • TR-560 Tricorder VI
  • TR-580 Tricorder VII
  • TR-590 Tricorder X
  • New tricorder
  • 3.4.1 23rd century
  • 3.4.2 25th century
  • 5.1 Merchandise

Features [ ]

Medical tricorders used throughout the years have been essentially similar in design to that of the standard tricorder, with the same available features and interface. The major difference is the addition of a deployable hand scanner. ( TOS : " The Man Trap "; TNG : " When The Bough Breaks ")

Functions [ ]


A comparative medical scan on Platonius

Medical tricorders could be used to perform quick multivariate analysis , such as the comparison of several different blood samples. ( TOS : " Plato's Stepchildren ")

Although very accurate on the living , it is taught in the first year of Starfleet Medical School that medical tricorders are not as accurate on the dead . ( DS9 : " The Passenger ") Additionally, a medical tricorder scan was no substitute for a complete autopsy . ( TNG : " Man Of The People ", " Suspicions ")

A medical tricorder could, in certain instances, provide a recommended course of treatment for an individual in hostile terrain. Captain Lisa Cusak followed the advice of her medical tricorder when stranded on a Class L planet to give herself fifteen CCs of tri-ox every four hours to compensate for the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere . ( DS9 : " The Sound of Her Voice ")

Versions [ ]

22nd century [ ].

Medical tricorders were in use aboard the Enterprise NX-01 during the mid- 22nd century . In 2153 , Doctor Phlox noted that Sim had disassembled Phlox's medical tricorder, when commenting on his aptitude for engineering . ( ENT : " Similitude ")

23rd century [ ]

24th century [ ], tr-560 tricorder vi [ ].


A TR-560 Medical Tricorder VI

Tricorder-VI-TR-560-Medical (Scanner)

The docked hand scanner

Medical tricorder scanner attachment

The hand scanner in use

The medical tricorder in use by 2364 was essentially similar in design to that of the standard TR-560, a flip-open device with the same available features and interface. The major difference was the addition of a deployable hand scanner tucked into a module at the very top of the tricorder. ( TNG : " Encounter at Farpoint ", " The Naked Now ") The scanner could provide detailed scans of an entire individual, or give focus to a single area. ( TNG : " When The Bough Breaks ")

Genetically-engineered microviruses were not generally detected by a standard medical TR-560 scan. ( TNG : " The Vengeance Factor ")

Dr. Katherine Pulaski used the hand scanner independent from the tricorder while on an away mission to the Mariposa colony in 2365 . ( TNG : " Up The Long Ladder ")

This version of the tricorder was mostly supplanted by the TR-580 Tricorder VII in late 2366 , although at least one unit was used aboard the USS Enterprise during the autopsy of Lieutenant Joshua Kelly in early 2369 . ( TNG : " Realm Of Fear ")

TR-580 Tricorder VII [ ]

Starfleet TR-580 medical tricorder

Medical tricorder TR-580 in 2369

By late 2366 , Starfleet R&D introduced this iteration of the tricorder, which was very similar in design to the previous version, but had a slightly altered color scheme and interface font. ( TNG : " Transfigurations ") It was not necessary to use the scanner for the TR-580 to function. The scanner could be separated from the tricorder, either to feed data to another source, or not be attached to the tricorder at all. ( DS9 : " Babel "; VOY : " Time and Again ") The medical tricorder was also designed to work closely with surgical support frames attached to biobeds . ( TNG : " Identity Crisis ")

The medical kit introduced during 2368 had a special slot to hold a medical tricorder, allowing access to the tricorder without opening the case. ( TNG : " I Borg ")

Medical tricorders also contain reference medical knowledge, including pregnancy delivery. ( TNG : " Disaster ")

The medical sensor unit was equipped with additional sensor ports. In conjunction with a neural pad, a medical TR-580 could be used to link the nervous system of a healthy individual to that of an injured individual in order to stabilize the injured for transport . Doctor Beverly Crusher used a tricorder to link Geordi La Forge to stabilize the patient known as John Doe . ( TNG : " Transfigurations ")

The tricorder could be used to record audio. Dr. Crusher used a tricorder to record mysterious voices she heard in her quarters while the Enterprise was trapped in a temporal causality loop in 2368 . ( TNG : " Cause And Effect ")

This version of the medical tricorder was equipped with holographic imaging diodes. When Captain Jean-Luc Picard completed a computer program left behind by the ancient humanoids , the program reconfigured the tricorder to display a holographic message. ( TNG : " The Chase ")

These tricorder models could be configured to remotely open doors and briefly disrupt a force field . Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard used a medical tricorder for these functions when escaping a Kes holding cell in early 2370 . ( TNG : " Attached ")

Shortly after being activated in 2371 , The Doctor requested a tricorder from Harry Kim and expressed irritation when Kim handed him a normal tricorder rather than a medical one. ( VOY : " Caretaker ")

TR-590 Tricorder X [ ]

Mark X Medical Tricorder

The Mark X medical tricorder

Introduced along with the Mark X standard tricorder, a medical tricorder variant was in use aboard Federation starships as early as 2372 .

Medical tricorder, 2378

TR-590 medical tricorder in 2378

Generally identical to the standard tricorder, the medical featured a detachable hand scanner (as in previous models) that fit into the back of the unit. The indicator lights on the top of the unit varied in color from red to yellow to blue. ( Star Trek: First Contact ; VOY : " Favorite Son ", " Prey "; DS9 : " Soldiers of the Empire "

Tricorder imagined by Seven

The model imagined by Seven of Nine

In 2374 , Seven of Nine described a medical tricorder she imagined in the following manner: " Duritanium casing. Seven point six centimeters by nine point eight centimeters by three point two centimeters. Alphanumeric display " ( VOY : " Retrospect ")

Hypochondriac William Telfer obtained a medical tricorder for his own personal use on the USS Voyager , despite the fact that he should not have been in possession of one. ( VOY : " Good Shepherd ")

New tricorder [ ]

Medical tricorder, 2379

Medical tricorder, 2379

Medical tricorder, 2384

Medical tricorder, 2384

Introduced as late as 2379 , yet another iteration of Starfleet tricorder departed from the distinct, flip-open style preceding it.

Distinguished by a slim, PADD-like appearance, the tricorder in use aboard such Starfleet vessels as the Enterprise -E in the late 2370s featured a large touchscreen interface. Silver in color, it was trimmed with black pads at the bottom and sides, with several buttons at the top. These buttons could be covered by a small hinged door, lined with indicator lights. ( Star Trek Nemesis )

Alternate timelines [ ]

Starfleet medical tricorder, alternate 2258

Tricorder and scanner (above)

In 2258 of the alternate reality , the medical tricorder consisted of a scanning rod and handheld feedback monitor. ( Star Trek ) The following year , the scanner had been redesigned into a white oval-shape reminiscent of the previous monitor, and could be stored inside a normal tricorder. ( Star Trek Into Darkness )

25th century [ ]

Medical tricoder (2404)

A medical tricorder in 2404

In a timeline erased due to the actions of Admiral Kathryn Janeway , a new version of the medical tricorder was in use by the year 2404 .

An extension of the Mark X model, this tricorder featured the familiar hinged cover design, but contained more touch control surfaces in place of toggle switches. It featured a small handheld antenna scanner. ( VOY : " Endgame ")

See also [ ]

  • Starfleet tricorder

Background information [ ]

Gates McFadden , who played Dr. Beverly Crusher, requested a standard set of operating guidelines for props on Star Trek: The Next Generation . In response, illustrator Rick Sternbach developed a tricorder user guide, which was later incorporated into the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (page 120).

Merchandise [ ]

In 1997, Playmates Toys produced a version of the TR-580 as part of their toy line. Several action figures throughout the run of the line were packed with miniature versions of medical tricorders as accessories.

Diamond Select Toys released a TOS edition of the medical tricorder.

  • 2 ISS Enterprise (NCC-1701)

star trek mark x tricorder

How close are we to a real Star Trek-style medical tricorder?

star trek mark x tricorder

Prize Fellow in Bioelectronics, University of Bath

Disclosure statement

Despina Moschou receives funding from the British Council-Newton Fund Institutional Links. She is also Managing Director and co-founder of the medical diagnostics company DxOnBoard Ltd.

University of Bath provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

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Does science inspire fiction or does it work the other way around? In the case of medical technology, the long-running TV and film series Star Trek has increasingly been inspiring researchers worldwide. Two teams were recently awarded the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize for developing handheld devices that can diagnose a range of diseases and check a patient’s vital signs without invasive tests – inspired by Star Trek’s medical “tricorder” device.

In the show, a doctor would use the tricorder and its detachable scanner to quickly gather data on a patient and instantly work out what was wrong with them. It could check organ functions and detect diseases and their causes, and also contained data on a range of alien lifeforms. But how close are we really to using such devices (assuming we don’t need them to diagnose aliens)?

The main aim of the two prizewinners is to integrate several technologies in one device. They haven’t created an all-in-one handheld machine but they do both represent significant steps forward.

The main winner, known as DxtER and created by US firm Basil Leaf Technologies, is actually an iPad app with artificial intelligence. It uses a number of non-invasive sensors that can be attached to the body to collect data about vital signs, body chemistry and biological functions. The runner-up technology from Taiwan’s Dynamical Biomarkers Group similarly connects a smartphone to several wireless handheld test modules that can analyse vital signs, blood and urine, and skin appearance.

The judges said both devices nearly met the benchmarks for accurately diagnosing 13 diseases including anaemia, lung disease, diabetes, pneumonia and urinary tract infection. These are the most successful efforts we’ve seen to bring so many functionalities into a single, user-friendly, portable diagnostic system.

Part of the success is due to the development of a variety of technologies that make up such all-in-one systems, although they still have some way to go. Probably the most advanced are mobile vital signs monitoring devices. For example, the ViSi Mobile System can remotely monitor all core vital signs including blood pressure, blood oxygen, heart rate and electrical activity, and skin temperature. It uses electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors attached to the chest and a pressure sensor in cuffs on the thumb and arm, both attached to a wearable wrist unit that feeds all the signals wirelessly to desktop or mobile device, with the same accuracy as conventional intensive care equipment .

All the various sensor data from a system such as this then needs to be turned into meaningful readings – and that requires specialist software. For example, the Airstrip Technologies software can pull in information from hundreds of different types and brands of patient monitors and other equipment, as well as medical records, scan results and even messaging apps, to display a full picture of patient’s changing condition in real time.

Portable imaging technologies are another element needed to assess a patient and present the relevant information. For example, there are already miniaturized USB-based ultrasound probes that can connect directly to a smartphone to provide instant ultrasound images. With the quality of mobile cameras and image processing capabilities continually improving, this technology is likely to get even better in the near future. This could mean instant X-ray scans or skin abnormality diagnosis using pattern recognition software.

Data and diagnosis

But vital signs information and images aren’t enough for a fully automated device that can tell you what’s actually wrong with a patient. The most mature technology we have in this area is for diabetes monitoring. Portable home blood glucose meters that can test a drop of blood on a paper can already be connected to mobile apps to allow diabetes sufferers to assess the severity of their condition.

Meanwhile, completely non-invasive methods for measuring glucose that don’t involve finger pricking to get a drop of blood are under development. These include analysing sweat or the interstitial fluid located a few micrometres below the skin’s surface (above the pain-causing nerves).

star trek mark x tricorder

A number of innovative companies around the world are focusing on using similar handheld systems to diagnose other diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis, bacterial infections and cardiovascular disease. These rely on the key enabling technology of microfluidics, which uses specially designed microchips to manipulate tiny amounts of liquid.

Commonly known as lab-on-a-chip technology , this allows you to reduce a complete clinical laboratory testing system to a device a few centimetres across. You can take a sample, prepare it for testing (for example by isolating bacteria in the blood) and identify and measure the microbe present.

But while there has been significant progress in the developing bits and pieces of a tricorder, there is still work to do putting them altogether in a genuinely handheld package. Various equipment needs to be miniaturised and we need more progress in portable computers so they can handle all the information and data required for a complete picture of a patient’s health condition. We also need more development of the more thorough diagnostic features, such as the lab-on-chip and portable imaging systems, and less invasive testing methods. We may not have a tricorder in our hands yet, but we are definitely getting closer.

  • Medical devices
  • Medical technology
  • Vital signs

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star trek mark x tricorder


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