We’ve had some tricorder false alarms over the last couple years, but this one seems to be legit. A multi-institutional task force under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Directorate (take a breath) has created a hand-held tool which can read pulse, body temperature, and respiration from up to 40 feet away. It’s not quite at the level of diagnosing space plagues, but it could save valuable seconds in triage situations.
The Standoff Patient Triage Tool uses Laser Doppler Vibrometry — similar to the idea of laser spy microphones — can be pointed at several key places on the body in order to capture readings. This means readings from several people can be taken from a single position, and someone’s vitals can be taken even if the person is in a dangerous position — under a precarious piece of rubble or electrical line, for instance.
It’s still not exactly pocketable at 15″x8″x6″, but I’m sure it’ll find its way into may medical response vehicles. No doubt the technology will be improved as well, and they’ll probably add an encouraging beeping noise to it to make people believe it’s actually doing something.