More mobile phones in use worldwide than toothbrushes

If what Paul Jacobs said is true, it’s probably a good thing people are communicating by phone and not face to face. The CEO of Qualcomm made the claim at a conference organized by the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley.

His point was that mobile phones are ubiquitous and, because of that, can do more for healthcare than the humble toothbrush. Qualcomm has an interest in promoting new uses for mobile phones that make good use of the increasingly powerful and sophisticated chipsets, devices and services on the market.

Jacobs gave an update on the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, which he announced at CES in January. It’s a ten million dollar incentive for developers and entrepreneurs to figure out how to make Dr. McCoy’s handheld medical scanner a reality. The idea is to “see if they can diagnose 15 diseases better than a panel of doctors,” he told the Mountain View audience.

According to Jacobs, 200 teams from around the world are already competing for the Tricorder X Prize. They have some time to do it. The first qualifying round of competition is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2014. Right now, Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation are taking registrations.

The list of targeted diseases hasn’t been finalized yet, but the preliminary set includes anemia, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, melanoma, leukocytosis and abnormalities in a comprehensive metabolic panel. Contenders will ultimately scan real people in a live competition that determines if they’ve produced “a mobile platform that most accurately diagnoses a set of 15 conditions across 30 consumers in three days.”