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Kitchener start-up zeroing in on Tricorder XPrize

Kitchener start-up zeroing in on Tricorder XPrize

Posted by PanamericanWorld on June 14, 2016

Robert Kaul unlocks the door at Cloud DX, turns on the lights and gets his first look at the space on Victoria Street South where the start-up is chasing a multi-million dollar prize.

Kaul is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Cloud DX, which has grown from four employees to more than 20 in the past year as it competes for the US$10-million Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize.

The goal of the competition is to develop a hand-held device, modelled after the tricorder featured in "Star Trek," that is capable of accurately diagnosing 13 health conditions

From its new offices at 72 Victoria St. S., Cloud DX is preparing to meet the next deadline in a competition that started 4 ½ years ago with 333 companies. It is the only Canadian firm among the seven start-ups remaining in the contest.

A year ago, Kaul and the entire team flew to San Diego and scrambled to deliver their tricorders to the competition judges. The winners were supposed to be announced in January 2016, but the competition has been entirely revamped.

"We were nowhere near ready," Kaul says.

It turned out none of the teams were ready, so the judges gave everyone more time, changed the rules and altered the prizes.

Under the new rules, Cloud DX must test its device, called the Vitaliti, on humans to ensure it can diagnose several different conditions. It now has Health Canada approval for that testing, which will be done in co-operation with Halton Healthcare, the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and McMaster University.

"Now we have to complete our testing at the end of June," Kaul says.

After the testing is completed, Cloud DX must submit seven working tricorders to the judges for safety testing. Documentation, including videos, clinical reports and affidavits, also must be provided to attest to Vitaliti's effectiveness.

The teams that meet this deadline by the end of June will share in a preliminary prize of US$1 million.

"It is almost certain that four or five of the teams will make it," Kaul says.

In September, Cloud DX must deliver 30 more tricorders. All of the devices will be thoroughly tested at the San Diego campus of the University of California. "And the judging will commence," Kaul says.

The tricorders must measure vital signs — heart rate, blood pressure, electrical activity of the heart, body temperature, respiration, blood oxygen continually for 24 hours, and stream all the data to the cloud.

"Whichever team has the most accurate vital signs during the course of that 24-hour period will win $1 million," Kaul says.

The second phase of the competition is diagnostic testing. All of the tricorders must diagnose the same core 10 conditions — anemia, urinary tract infection, type-2 diabetes, atrial fibrillation, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, pneumonia, otitis media and leukocytosis — and the absence of any condition, as well as another three conditions selected by each team. Cloud DX selected hypertension, mononucleosis and HIV.

"In order to qualify for a prize you have to be able to recognize each condition at least 70 per cent of the time," Kaul says.

And finally, each tricorder will be rated for its user experience.

"Again, to qualify for a prize you have to score above 70 per cent on user experience," Kaul says.

The ratings for diagnostics and user experience are combined, and the highest score wins US$6 million. The second-place finisher will get US$2 million.

The winners will be announced next January.

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