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Students, startups and a Bill Gates-backed research team named as finalists for $10m Star Trek-inspired competition

The 10 finalists of the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, which was launched back in 2012, have been chosen and include two UK-based companies, a group of engineering students from the John Hopkins University in US and a research team backed by the Bill Gates Foundation.

Read more: Qualcomm puts up $10m prize for maker of Star Trek 'Tricorder'

To win the $10 million (£6 million) prize, the contestants are required to develop a portable, non-invasive medical scanner, similar to the device used in the popular sci-fi series Star Trek.

The device must be able to monitor a patient's vital signs and diagnose a range of illnesses, including anaemia, tuberculosis and diabetes, whilst providing user-friendly information to enable patients self-diagnose.

Despite having a space-age feel to it, X Prize officials insist that the technology is now "fact, not science fiction," a statement which is hopefully on the way to being proved right by some of the devices on offer.

For example, a handheld scanner from Silicon Valley-based startup Scanadu, which is able to monitor various vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure, was displayed at the CES conference earlier this year.

Read more: UK startup to crowdfund handheld device that can diagnose malaria and drug resistance in 15 mins

We don't yet know what the other devices will look like, but Dr Erik Virre, the competitions technical and medical director, has said that they range from attachments for conventional smartphones to more "utilitarian-looking devices that get the job done."

The finalists now have until the middle of next year to build working prototypes of their devices. Live long and prosper, people.