The famous Qualcomm Tricorder prize winner and IndieGogo crowdfunding success, Scanadu, has just hit some major bumps in the road. In fact, you might say they lost their engine completely. After winning the X Prize foundation’s tricorder competition, they went on to raise more than $1.6 million on IndieGogo from 8509 backers.
After shipping the product, Techcrunch just broke the news that Scanadu was now planning to disable the Scout’s functionality. Yes, that’s right. People paid $149-269 for the Scanadu Scout and now Scanadu is going to brick all of the devices. Here’s their official comment to Techcrunch:
“From the beginning of the campaign, this was an investigational device that was part of a study which has now reached its endpoint with data collection for the study ending in November 2016. FDA regulations require that all investigational studies be brought to closure and their respective devices be deactivated. As a result, we will deactivate the Scanadu Scout® devices by May 15, 2017.
Interestingly, the Scanadu website, Twitter, Facebook, etc are all quiet. In fact, most of them have been quiet since April. What hasn’t been quiet is customers anger towards Scanadu. That’s true on social media, but also in the IndieGogo comment section where Scanadu had raised $1.6 million.
You can imagine people’s anger. Their expensive device will now be useless. As one commenter pointed out, someone bought 100 of them. That person will now essentially have 100 expensive bricks. In the comments, people are calling for a class action lawsuit, refunds from IndieGogo and outrage at the company doing this to them. The most salient point is that it’s hard to imagine anyone ever buying a product from Scanadu again after something like this occurs. One commenter suggested the following:
The consent doc also says: “If you have any questions about your rights, call the Scripps Office for the Protection of Research Subjects at (858) 652-5500. ” [Note: Scripps is performing the study based on the Scanadu data.]
Some people in the comments are even commenting that there’s no such FDA regulation. I’m not an expert on FDA regulation, but my gut tells me there’s more to this story than we know today. I could easily see how there could be an FDA regulation that required a company to shut down devices that made claims they couldn’t achieve and therefore put people’s health in danger. I’m not sure if this is what’s happening with Scanadu, but when there’s smoke there’s usually fire.
I think we all loved the romanticized idea of a medical tricorder. Haven’t we all wanted one since we first saw it portrayed on Star Trek? Scanadu was trying to make it a reality, but it seems their efforts have fallen flat. This is a good warning to everyone else out there. FDA compliance is no joke. Even winning an X Prize, a successful crowd funding campaign, and raising $35 million in funding doesn’t guarantee success.
Innovation in healthcare is hard!