Adam Savage’s Maker Faire 2012 Talk: Why We Make

This morning over breakfest I had the chance to watch Adam Savage’s great talk from Maker Faire, about why we make:

A lot of what he says really resonates with me, and I’m sure a lot of other makers. I remember late nights at the hackerspace in grad school, slaving over a hot laser cutter to fabricate some fantastic machine that I’d dreamed up that morning and designed in the afternoon, and really needed to get out of my brain and into the real world to see it real, see how it worked — a sort of sketching in plastic and in gears and in code. The story is very much the same with the Science Tricorders, though the process a lot longer because of their complexity. I’ve been developing them for years, but more than that, I /can’t help/ but develop them. It’s almost like we’re compelled, as makers, and scientists, and Tricorder builders — there’s so much we have to see, so much we have to know.

At about 17:30 in the video, Adam speaks about project-based education — something I feel very strongly about — and gives a shout out to building your own fully functional Tricorders from Star Trek!

Forbes Article: Social Medicine is the Next Big Thing After Social Media

There’s a great article over in Forbes this morning by Mark P. Mills about Medical Tricorders, Scanadu, and the Tricorder project entitled Tricorder Update — Social Medicine is the Next Big Thing After Social Media. From the article:

You want a vision for the future of health care? Don’t look to policymakers and regulators. Look to innovators and innovations. Look to San Diego’s wireless mesas and San Francisco’s silicon valleys. Look at Scanadu’s protean medical Tricorder. They get it, and it’s awesome. Watch their one-and-a-half-minute video before reading on.

Scanadu’s vision embraces patient-centric healthcare as a personal information service, in your control – in your hands – amplified by the Cloud. It is the key to unleashing the power of social medicine. Welcome to the future of healthcare.

Of course we can already use social media whether at Facebook [NASDAQ:FB] or its health-centric imitators like PatientsLikeMe to “friend” within a subject domain (symptoms, questions). But what we hunger for is hard facts about our personal medical problem that we can share with the best medical expertise. Enter Scanadu and the Tricorder.
Scanadu is competing for the Qualcomm [NASDAQ:QCOM] Tricorder X-Prize I wrote about earlier this year. (See New Era of Metadata Medicine) The underlying DNA of Scanadu is illuminated by the newest member of their impressive team, Canadian Peter Jansen, a polymath with a background in astro and optical physics, cognitive artificial intelligence, and medical imaging. Jansen’s talents speak volumes about the kind of imaging and information processing that will change the face of medicine. Jansen says “medicine must become an information science.”

You can read the full article here. Thanks Mark!

Peter Jansen, Creator of Open Source Tricorder, Joins Scanadu Medical Tricorder Team

This has been in the works for a while, and so I’m excited to be able to finally publicly announce it. This week I’ll be joining Scanadu, a silicon-valley based startup working on the Medical Tricorder, and backed by world-class folks like Stephan Wolfram (Mathematica / Wolfram Alpha) and Nicholas Negroponte (founder of the MIT Media Lab and One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) association). Here’s the official press release from Scanadu:

Mountain View, CA, May 16, 2012 –(– Scanadu, the Silicon Valley based startup building the Medical Tricorder, today welcomes Peter Jansen, the one-man force behind the Open Source Science Tricorder. Jansen joins a brilliant 12-person team backed by the likes of Stephen Wolfram and Nicholas Negroponte.

Peter Jansen, PhD, recently made media waves when, on the heels of the Tricorder X PRIZE announcement, he released open source designs for two real-life Tricorders. Dubbed the “Mark 1” and “Mark 2,” these science Tricorders form the bedrock of Jansen’s Tricorder Project, an open hardware community adding to Jansen’s original design.

Jansen, a protean hacker – fluent in astro and optical physics, cognitive artificial intelligence, and medical imaging – is driven by the belief that free and inalienable access to healthcare is a basic human right. Growing up in Canada has given Jansen perspective on flaws in American medicine and political resistance to socialized care. The only solution, he sees, is to change the system from the bottom up, first by making expensive medical equipment cheap. The end goal? According to Jansen: “Medicine must become an information science.”

Jansen’s mission mirrors Scanadu’s own – to put the tools of a doctor’s office into the hands of the medical consumer, giving the individual access to the most deeply personal information possible – their health data.

About Scanadu
Scanadu is a health technology company that is building the Medical Tricorder, a device that enables consumers to manage their own health care. Consumers will have real-time monitoring of 6 vital signs in a single device. Sensor data combines seamlessly with user-device Q&A and personal health records (PHR), resulting in the most complete picture of health ever possible to-date. The Tricorder gives recommendations for medical care, when appropriate, and lets users schedule an appointment or speak with a medical professional immediately. Scanadu closed a $4 million Seed round of financing in 2012. For more information about the company, please visit

One of the most common questions I get (aside from “where can I purchase a Science Tricorder?”) is whether I’m working on a Medical Tricorder for the Qualcomm Tricorder X-PRIZE, and so I’m happy to finally be able to answer that question. On a personal note, I have to say that living at NASA Ames and working on developing a Medical Tricorder sounds like something from a dream (though replacing a Tricorder with a warp drive would make that spot on 😉 ). Scanadu is full of incredibly bright folks working on innovative technology, and I’m excited to be a part of the team. Their building on NASA Ames is also beside an ENORMOUS hanger for blimps, which is way too cool for a science nerd like me! 🙂

Make Hardware Innovation Workshop: CNET’s Article

The MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop was fantastic. It was great to meet so many interested folks, let people play with Tricorders at Xerox PARC, and listen to some great talks. I wish I could have made it both days!

CNET’s Daniel Terdiman dropped by the Tricorder project at the showcase portion of the evening, and wrote an article about The Real Business of the DIY Movement.

If there’s one thing that I took from the night, it’s how excited folks get at the idea of having their own Science Tricorders, and the idea of placing them in kids hands — so that the kids who grow up today will be as fluent (at least at a conceptual level) with a broad palette of science as the kids who grew up recently are with computers. I really have to get these in peoples hands. And I’m excited and humbled that there are so many folks who want to help make that happen. Thanks again to Dale Dougherty for inviting me!

the Tricorder project @ MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop, May 15th

A few weeks ago, I received a kind invitation from Dale Dougherty, founder and publisher of MAKE magazine (which I love), asking me if I’d happen to be in the Bay Area to present at the MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop this Tuesday May 15th. I’m happy to announce that I’ll be presenting at their showcase tomorrow evening starting at 5pm, Tricorders in hand.

If you’re attending the MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop, feel free to drop by the showcase to meet both myself and a bunch of other folks working on some wonderful and innovative open source hardware projects. Also, if you’d like to play with the Tricorders, try to find me in the first hour — I’ve just moved to the SF Bay Area yesterday (an exciting announcement to come on that later this week), and the spare Tricorder batteries are packed away. Either that, or bring 6 high-current AAA’s with you (for the Mark 1), or one of Sparkfun’s 1000mAh Polymer Lithium Ion Batteries for the Mark 2. 🙂

I also hope to attend the Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend, though much too last minute to formally present, so feel free to say Hi if you happen to bump into a person with some Open Source Science Tricorders!