There are nearly six million people living without the use of their legs from paralysis or loss due to infection, injury, disease, post-operative complications, or trauma. Today, their only alternative for mobility is a wheelchair or a walker. There are tens of millions of aged adults whose functional mobility are greatly reduced and may be driven to institutional care as a result.
The dire need to improve healthcare and health in the U.S. is a problem whose solution has evaded the brightest minds. The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is a $10 million competition to stimulate innovation and integration of precision diagnostic technologies, making definitive health assessment available directly to “health consumers.” These technologies on a consumer’s mobile device will be presented in an appealing, engaging way that brings a desire to be incorporated into daily life.
In 2006 XPRIZE announced the Archon Genomics XPRIZE, offering $10 million to the first team that could rapidly and accurately sequence 100 whole human genomes to a standard never before achieved at a cost of $10,000 or less per genome. After careful consideration, we decided that the competition was not incentivizing the technological changes that our prize chair, Dr. Craig Venter, our sponsors Stewart and Marilyn Blusson, and the XPRIZE board had intended.
In a world of ATMs and online banking that can provide reliable and secure records, blood is shed and nations are upended over the simple counting of votes in places ranging from Florida to Tunisia. What if the creation of an accurate, verifiable voting technology could safely increase democracy?
A staggering two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency, perhaps the most prevalent, most addressable aspect of world hunger. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals (e.g., iodine, iron, vitamin A) that prevent brain damage and fight disease. A group of Nobel-laureate economists ranked micronutrient interventions as the single most cost-effective way to combat global poverty. What if there was a way to rapidly increase the micronutrient intake in the diets of a billion malnourished children?
Space research costs today are dominated by expensive launches, precluding many interested researchers, students, and companies from engaging in the field. Developing a very low-cost, robust capability to take scientific instruments to the edge of space (200,000 feet) on a dedicated basis will shepherd in a new era of low-cost flight for academic and corporate R&D.
Tens of millions of pieces of debris are currently orbiting Earth at altitudes that pose a danger to satellites and human spacecraft. The threats from such debris are predicted to rise 50 percent in the coming decade and quadruple in the next 50 years. Large object collisions are particularly dangerous, due to the ensuing creation of additional debris. The threat is both to spacecraft in orbit and to those that need to pass through the gauntlet of debris to reach their intended orbit. This XPRIZE seeks a low-cost, scalable method to safely and efficiently dispose of orbital debris.
We currently lack high-resolution maps of nearly 75 percent of the planet’s surface and know more about the surface of Mars than about the floor of Earth’s oceans. Improved knowledge of the ocean floor improves exploration, navigation, basic geological discovery, and economic development.
Thousands of asteroids and other Near Earth Objects (NEOs) exist, but worldwide efforts have only been able to catalogue and track a fraction of these objects. Historical impacts with the Earth have had collision forces exceeding a nuclear bomb, causing massive destruction and climate change. While the likelihood of future events is not large, there have been some relative near misses and the ramifications of collisions could be devastating.
The $10 million Ansari XPRIZE was a competition to build a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the earth's surface twice within two weeks. The $10 million purse was won by famed aerospace designer Burt Rutan and his company, Scaled Composite. Together, 26 teams from seven nations spent more than $100 million to win the prize. Since SpaceShipOne won the prize, there has been more than $1.5 billion dollars in public and private expenditure in support of the private spaceflight industry.