The Berkeley Tricorder is now Open Source!

multiple tricorders

[Reza Naima] has just released the designs for his Berkeley Tricorder for the public to use. He’s been designing it since 2007 as his thesis work for his PhD, and since he’s done now (Congrats!), he decided to let it grow by making it open source!

We covered it almost 7 years ago now when it was in its first prototype form, and it has come a long way since then. The latest version features an electromyogram (EMG), an electrocardiograph (ECG), a bioimpedance spectrometer, a pulse oximeter, an accelerometer, and all the data is recorded to a micro SD card or sent via bluetooth to a tablet or smart phone for data visualization.

He’s released it in hopes that other researchers can utilize the hardware in their own research, hopefully springing up a community of people interested in non-invasive health monitoring. With any luck, the development of the Berkeley Tricorder will continue, and maybe some day, can truly live up to its name!

Unfortunately there’s no new video showing off the latest iteration, but we’ve attached the original video after the break, which gives a good narrative on the device by [Reza] himself.



  1. Hadi says:

    bother to say what the fuck is Berkeley Tricoder?

  2. Dayal says:

    Excellent !

  3. Zee says:

    That is way too tiny to be home manufactured. Maybe seeedstudio will start selling it

  4. Greenaum says:

    I wonder how much medical feedback they’ve got on this? To find out what medics need, more than what gadgets are available. Tho of course having it certified would bring costs out of the scale of the project, I’d think.

  5. jtl says:

    I’m disappointed to see a lack of isolation on the power supply, as I hope people know that it would be dangerous to use while charging…and lacking that supply prevents it from being run continuously.

    • Mike Lu says:

      Not any more than any other USB device. Just don’t use a questionable power supply with it and it would be fine. If you really don’t trust any mains adapter, a cheap and easy way is to get one of those USB battery packs and use it to charge your Tricorder.

    • Shawn Swift says:

      Isolation? Why would you need isolation to charge this thing from a 5V USB connection which can source no more than 500mA? The thing it’s plugged into supplying power via USB surely has whatever isolation is needed for safety.

      • AMS says:

        The Y capacitor on most USB supplies (or laptop supplies) is really really not enough isolation for something hooked to electrodes hooked to a person (especially near the heart). Never mind what happens when you’re using a shitty chinese supply that put a plain ceramic cap in place of a proper Y cap.

        • Mike Lu says:

          No more of a problem than with any other USB device that has exposed metal parts. Use a trusted good quality adapter or if that’s still not enough (or it’s causing interference), just use one of those USB battery packs.

        • tekkieneet says:

          The Y caps are not for isolation. They are supposed to let some of the
          common mode current to the Earth ground. This reduces the conductive EMC
          flowing back to the AC outlet. There is also a Y cap connected between
          the ground secondary side to the Earth ground for leakage currents.

          The problem is these days, there are no longer Earth Ground connections
          on wall warts. That current would now flow through that Y cap onto
          secondary side. So if you are the person that is wired to is somehow
          touches Earth Ground, now there is some current trying to flow into you.
          That’s the weird feeling as you touches the outer barrel of a
          laptop connector.

          Having something attached to your chest powered by such kind of
          converter is asking for trouble.

    • thereza says:

      The device is expected to be worn on the body, not while connected to a PC (it’s for recharge only). It’s a research device and the user is expected to know how to use it. It’s not a commercial one that has to anticipate all the ways that it can be misused. Also, there are additional caps/resistors between the various electrodes and the electronics that help further isolate.

      • jtl says:

        I know, I know. But a $6 isolated switcher couldn’t hurt.

        Caps & resistors aren’t isolation, but they do help with getting the impedance up.

      • tekkieneet says:

        Your typical $6 isolated switchers do not usually come double insulated
        nor safety certified for medical use.

        Use RF charging and Bluetooth/Wifi link so the device is not connected.
        (assuming that they don’t increase the noise floor as the operating
        frequency is well above the bandwidth your measurement)

  6. nate says:

    I wonder how this would fair in biofeedback circles

  7. ssshake says:

    I’m not sure what about this took years to make. I’m building a tricorder right now using microduino parts and it’s going to have more sensors than this. I’m actually putting it in a playmates tricorder toy that I found. Stay tuned.

  8. strider_mt2k says:

    Just to be nitpicky, shouldn’t this be called the Berkeley _Medical_ Tricorder?
    “Regular” Tricorders were more generalized as I recall.

  9. I had a thought to use those IR mesh sensors (MLX90250?) as biospectral analysers.
    It might also work if a filter wheel was rotated through the plane of the sensor to allow multiple wavelengths in the thermal IR range to be analysed with the same sensor.

    also relevant, a single cheap sensor can provide far more useful information using this method, in fact many IR thermometers now use LED feedback of temperature to generate an X-ray like image.
    Scanning it across a subject would allow real time wound/blood loss detection through clothing.

    Not many people know this but you can often detect a broken bone by looking at each limb on an IR scanner, a break will show up brighter than the surrounding tissue due to blood pooling in the area.

  10. Peter says:

    I’m an emergency physician and hobbiest hacker and I can see real use for something like this transmitting tracings to something like google glass. i’d use it for sure. the trick is to use this generously provided hard work and do the above at comparable cost. as soon as you apply such concepts to medicine, the cost skyrockets, typically for reasons which seem to me either greedy or somewhat paranoid.

  11. mistbooster says:

    Looking forward to seeing where this thing goes… perhaps, Boldly to where no health monitor has gone before :D

  12. Joki_doki says:

    Very nice board!!! It looks like very useful like the eHealth Sensor shield for Arduino from Cooking Hacks.

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