A portable medical device that echoes the tricorder handheld analytical tools used in the sci-fi series Star Trek is headed to the International Space Station, the Canadian Space Agency recently announced.
The device, called Microflow, offers near real-time analysis of body fluids for everything from infections and stress to cancer.
The portable box uses fiber optic technology to detect and analyze cells and biological molecules as they flow by a laser beam. Various detectors are positioned where the stream meets the laser. Diagnosis takes about 10 minutes, the space agency explains.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield will take 22-pound, toaster-sized Microflow to the International Space Station in December. The six-month test will determine the feasibility of such devices for long-duration spaceflight.
While Trek fans will need to wait a little longer before they have a true replica tricorder in their hands to analyze everything, researchers are hard at work at tricorder-inspired gadgets.
Med Sensation, for example, is working on a “Glove Tricorder” fitted with sensors that will allow doctors to maintain their human touch while performing medical exams with the latest technologies. The video clip below describes how it works.
And with other devices such as Peter Jansen’s open-source tricorder we wrote about earlier this year under development, the day when sci-fi meets reality appears to be getting closer.
– via Gizmag
John Roach is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. To learn more about him, check out his website. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.