Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE

Healthcare in the palm of your hand

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is this a global competition?
  • Teams from around the world are expected to enter and compete for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. While the technology developed in this competition will be targeted at U.S. consumers, we believe that this will pave the way for future versions of the tool to be adapted to include consumers in many more countries.

  • What is the registration fee for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE? Why does it cost money to enter the competition?
  • The registration fee is between $5,000 and $25,000 USD.* The entry fee covers a portion of the operating costs for the competition including team and judging summits, comprehensive technology testing, and judging processes that are essential to staging a fair and objective competition. The fee also encourages teams to meet a minimum threshold that can potentially result in the breakthroughs we seek. The XPRIZE Foundation is a non-profit entity and all funds raised are used to accomplish our mission of creating revolution through large scale competitions.

    * The Registration Fee that each team must pay depends upon when they register for the competition, with the fee being lower for teams that register early. The following are the registration fees and timelines:
    • Registration fees to teams that register between January 8, 2013 and 11:59 a.m. PT April 10th, 2013: $5,000 USD
    • Registration fees to teams that register between noon PT April 10, 2013 and 11:59 a.m. PT July 10, 2013: $10,000 USD
    • Registration fees for teams that register between noon PT July 10, 2013 to 11:59 a.m. PT August 30, 2013: $25,000 USD


  • Who owns the intellectual property rights to the technology entered in the competition?
  • Teams own all their intellectual property associated with the design, manufacture, and operation of their entries. The XPRIZE Foundation makes no claim to a team’s intellectual property associated with the design, manufacture, operation of and the data collected by the entry and any subsystems, except in limited instances as detailed in the Master Team Agreement.

  • What is "de-skilling"?
  • De-skilling is the process of taking a skill based on human expertise and replacing it with technology-based expertise.

  • Why is diagnosis the focus, and why is this important? Shouldn't we be trying to cure diseases?
  • Diagnosis is usually the first step in healthcare. Once a diagnosis can be confirmed, therapy/ treatment (including the appropriate drugs) follows. Unclear or imprecise diagnosis can result in ineffective therapy, since it would be treating the wrong disease.

  • If the technology can diagnose strep throat, can it also prescribe my antibiotic?
  • Not in this "Device 1.0" stage of development. Future versions and additional healthcare partnerships would be required to allow for this. It is not a requirement or expectation of this competition, although the benefit is clear.

  • What will the Device actually do?
    • Diagnose diseases
    • Provide ongoing metrics of health (vitals)
    • Allow monitoring or continuous use of sensors to diagnose and measure health
    • Provide awareness of health state
    • Give confirmation that everything is ok with a consumer
    • Notify that something is not ok (a "check engine light")


  • What's new about the technology? Doesn't most of this already exist?
  • Yes, some of the technology exists today. However, the the teams in this competition will pull this all together in one seamless system. The resulting instrument will also push the sensing component of technology in different ways: Smaller, lighter, cheaper, faster, better. Integration of these many different components is expected to be very challenging.

  • Is this an app?
  • It will be portable and may be integrated with a cell phone, but the underlying technology goes far beyond an "app" because it leverages the capabilities of wireless sensors. However, on a portable device, the interface with the consumer may look like an app; you just won’t be able to see the "engine" behind it.

  • Do the sensors have to be wireless?
  • No; however, due to consumer experience requirements it's unlikely a non-wireless sensor will be successful.

  • Can the sensors be invasive? (What is "invasive?")
  • There is no requirement or limit on sensing; we define a grand challenge and let teams find the best, innovative new solutions. "Invasive" means it punctures the skin. The competition allows this but it's very unlikely this would be acceptable to a consumer. For example, drawing blood is invasive but the accelerometer in your phone is non-invasive.


  • What is the difference between sensors and sensing? (What is "sensing?")
  • Sensors are generally physical hardware. These are used to collect health metrics and data about a person. The sensor can collect data for a short or long period of time. Sensing is the process of taking the data and interpreting it for patterns. These patterns can be analyzed to show unusual variations within one person, or compared to other people.


  • Where will the sensors be?
  • Teams determine what type of sensors and how many will be used in their their entries. Sensors can be on-body, near the body, or in the individual's environment.

  • What is artificial intelligence and how will it be used in the device?
  • Artificial intelligence or "AI" is the ability of computers (machines) to think in place of humans. This is a powerful tool that can far exceed human capabilities. AI will be used in the device for diagnosis. Individuals will likely be asked by the device to describe their health states or symptoms; this information may be combined with sensor data to arrive at a diagnosis.

  • Who is Brent Spiner and how is he involved with the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE?
  • Brent Spiner is an actor best known for his portrayal of the android Lieutenant Commander, Data, in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spiner starred in the popular series throughout its seven-year run, and he was the recipient of the Saturn Award for his roles in Star Trek: First Contact and Independence Day. Brent’s strong relationship to all things Star Trek, tricorders, and futuristic technology made him the perfect partner for Qualcomm and XPRIZE at the 2012 Qualcomm Uplinq developers’ conference, which highlighted the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. At the event, Dr. Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm Incorporated Chairman and CEO and Qualcomm Foundation Chair, and Dr. Peter Diamandis, XPRIZE Foundation Chairman and CEO, joined Brent on stage as they discussed the Prize and its impact on the future of digital health technology.

  • Why is the Qualcomm Foundation sponsoring this Prize?
  • By sponsoring the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, the Qualcomm Foundation intends to stimulate innovation in wireless health information technologies that enable people to better understand their healthcare needs and make better decisions about their care. The Foundation believes that this Prize can also demonstrate that technology of this kind can lower the cost structure of care delivery by providing more timely and accurate information to consumers, and ultimately their physicians. The Prize could hold the promise of a more efficient and collaborative personal health and wellness model.