Scanadu asks Indiegogo users to test its "tricorder," but don't call it a pre-order
Scanadu, the healthcare company trying to build a real-world version of "Star Trek's" tricorder, is looking to raise $100,000 on Indiegogo, but it would prefer that you don't refer to its campaign as crowd-funding or pre-ordering its Scout device. It's using Indiegogo to crowd-source the hunt for willing participants in a usability trial required by FDA -- the money is secondary, or at least that's how Scanadu views the initiative.
"We'll learn a lot about how end users are going to treat the medical readings," says Scanadu CEO Walter de Broweur. "If they want to, and are going to, change based on these readings." He says that interest in the company's product has far exceeded expectations -- unsurprising, given the constant "Star Trek" references -- and the campaign will allow Scanadu to learn from a few of its more fervent fans.
Scout has changed since last November, when de Brouwer showed me the device's capabilities in a crowded Starbucks. It's more circular and more powerful -- de Brouwer says that it's the same size but weighs a bit more -- and, due to popular demand, is no longer restricted to one user per device. The new Scout will allow you to collect your children's and parents' heart rate, blood oxygenation, and, yes, temperature, among a slew of other stats.
The first 1,000 people to participate in the Indiegogo campaign can get a limited edition Scout and two Project ScanaFlo -- more capable, QR code-equipped urine tests -- in the first quarter of 2014. Other backers can receive the device for $199, which Scanadu says is the expected retail price. Participants (not pre-orderers, remember) will be able to share data with Scanadu that will be a "valuable part of Scanadu's road to FDA."
"Just suppose that we would give 1,000 units away; we could do it, but the problem is that the people we give it away to we will not really know that they're committed to do something with it," de Brouwer says. The Indiegogo project is meant to help Scanadu avoid that problem by asking potential users to make a monetary commitment, another example of a company using crowd-funding as a marketing tool, not a way of seeking monetary gain. (Though that probably doesn't hurt either.)
Scanadu's hope is to start shipping Scout in the first quarter of 2014. It plans to submit ScanaFlo to the FDA in July 2013. Beyond that, the company plans to continue refining its products and seeing how people like you and I might use a device that de Brouwer describes as putting an Emergency Room in your pocket.
"We are putting a medical device into the hands of the crowd," de Brouwer says. "We don't know what's going to happen." Enter the crowd with all of its potential wisdom -- and billfolds. Just so long as no one thinks of it as a pre-order, please.