Today the X Prize Foundation announced a $2.25 million Nokia Sensing X Challenge to produce a new generation of health care and biometric sensors. This adds a new health-related prize to their roster of other scientific challenges, including a $10 million prize to produce a wireless health monitor like the Star Trek Tricorder, another $10 million prize for gene sequencing, and a $30 million prize sponsored by Google to bring back robotic lunar landers.

Bio-sensors have lagged behind other kinds of sensors. Robert McCray, the CEO of the Wireless Life Sciences Alliance, mentioned how many sensors could be found in your average car or phone, which eclipse what is available in the life sciences market. For example, your typical cellphone includes sensors such as a camera, a microphone, a GPS, haptic/touch and an accelerometer. The alliance claims to be the only trade organization focused exclusively on identifying collaboration opportunities within the wireless health sector, and was holdng its annual conference this week in San Diego.

As with other of its prizes, this one attempts to stimulate a revolution and create an ecosystem of innovators in the bio-sensing area. "We want to give inventors a platform to show their stuff to the entire planet to help expand health care to move beyond disease management," said the CEO of X Prize Foundation Peter Diamandis (shown) at the launch of the new competition. Entries will be judged on several metrics, including validity, usability, originality and affordability. Sensors can be developed in several categories, including biofluids, kinematics, body physics, mood and emotion detection.

This contest is partnered with the Tricoder competition. Diamandis mentioned that the sensors coming out of the Nokia challenge could be put into handheld consumer devices that will be developed for these Tricorders. So far, 185 teams from 25 countries have signalled that they will be entering the Tricorder contest, which was announced in January at CES in Vegas.

According to the contest website, "As sensing is an enormous, heterogeneous field, there will be no specific benchmarks established for any of these criteria. Instead, the Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE will rely on the judges’ expert knowledge and the teams’ submitted material to establish notability."