Verily’s moonshot project which aimed to create a futuristic every-aspect diagnostic device and cancer treatment, much like Star Trek’s “Tricorder” devices, has flopped after 3 years in development, according to a report from STAT news.
The device from Verily, Google‘s (NSDQ:GOOG) newly named life sciences arm, aimed to operate as both a multi-function diagnostic device as well as a cancer cure, using nanoparticles to “track down” cancer cells in the bloodstream and send signals back to a wristband.
According to the report, recently departed employees said a prototype version of the device “didn’t work as hoped” and that the project as a whole is floundering.
The device may be more of a “science fantasy” than a “science reality,” according to nanoscience expert David Walt of Tufts University. Walt met with Verily scientists and engineers last year to voice his concerns, the story reports.
Verily says it is continuing forward with all of its moonshot projects, which include a glucose-sensing contact lens and a billion-dollar “Baseline” study of human health that aims to define “what it means to be healthy.”
The Tricorder project was announced only 3 months after Google entered the life sciences field, according to the report, and came from the same incubator which rolled out the company’s self-driving car and recently cancelled Google Glass.
Verily CEO Andrew Conrad said the scientific basis for the device was proven upon unveiling in 2014, but experts have presented conflicting views on the reality of such a device, STAT News reports.
“What (Verily is) really good at is physical measurements — things like temperature, pulse rate, activity level. They are not particularly good at … the chemical and the biological stuff,” Walt told STAT news.
Four former Verily employees said the Tricorder “has been seen internally more as a way to generate buzz than as a viable project,” according to the report.