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Ex-BlackBerry CEO starts fund to make 'Star Trek' device a reality

March 19, 2013|By Andrea Chang
  • Mike Lazaridis, former CEO of BlackBerry, is starting a fund that hopes to make the "Star Trek" medical tricorder device a reality.
Mike Lazaridis, former CEO of BlackBerry, is starting a fund that hopes… (Aaron Harris/Bloomberg )

BlackBerry inventor Mike Lazaridis is the latest techie trying to build a real-life medical tricorder, a fictional handheld device on "Star Trek" that enables users to quickly diagnose ailments and take health measurements.

Lazaridis, who stepped down as co-CEO of the BlackBerry maker early last year, is starting a $97-million quantum technology fund that wants to commercialize technologies from research labs that he's been funding, according to Bloomberg. Among them is the medical tricorder.

"What we're excited about is these little gems coming out," Lazaridis told Bloomberg. "The medical tricorder would be astounding, the whole idea of blood tests, MRIs -- imagine if you could do that with a single device. That may be possible and possible only because of the sensitivity, selectivity and resolution we can get from quantum sensors made with these quantum breakthroughs."

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The fund is called Quantum Valley Investments and is being financed by Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, co-founder of Canadian company Research in Motion (now called BlackBerry after a January name change).

The race to create a real-life medical tricorder has long been a subject of interest for technologists.

Last year, Qualcomm announced a $10-million global competition to create a tricorder device.

"As envisioned for this competition, the device will be a tool capable of capturing key health metrics and diagnosing a set of 15 diseases," the website for the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize said.

"Metrics for health could include such elements as blood pressure, respiratory rate, and temperature. Ultimately, this tool will collect large volumes of data from ongoing measurement of health states through a combination of wireless sensors, imaging technologies, and portable, non-invasive laboratory replacements."

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