Alberta company wins NASA tech competition with 3D ‘Star Trek’ surgery

WATCH ABOVE: Su-Ling Goh explains why some Edmonton inventors are attracting international attention lately.

An “immersive reality” product developed in Edmonton has skyrocketed all the way to NASA. Aris MD recently took top prize in the U.S. space agency’s iTech Ignite the Night pitch competition in Austin, Texas.

They were the only Canadian competitors.

“As Canadians, you go into it thinking, ‘Oh I’m so lucky to be here,’” said CEO Chandra Devam. “So it was really nice to be told: ‘You’re the best.’”

“And honestly, our stuff is the best.”

The Aris MD software turns conventional medical imaging — MRI, CT scan, x-ray — into 3D images. Physicians can wear smart goggles to view body structures from all angles and superimpose the images over a patient’s body on the operating table, like Star Trek surgery.

“It’s essentially giving a surgeon x-ray vision. So they can see through your skin where your organs are located.”

The technology can also flag potential tumours or abnormalities which the human eye can’t see.

NASA judges appreciated the possibility of autonomous medicine in space.

“If somebody’s in a space ship, maybe there are doctors present, maybe something happens to those doctors… what do you do then?” said Devam.

“The (artificial intelligence) being able to diagnose is extremely valuable.”

Devam and partner Scott Edgar were inspired by her near-death experience several years ago. During what was supposed to be a simple day surgery, a doctor accidentally cut an artery.

“(The medical team) didn’t know (the artery) was there. I started bleeding to death. They had to give me a blood transfusion to save my life.”

Devam hopes Aris MD could prevent that kind of mistake.

She and Edgar have now been invited to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the Netherlands in June.

They’re also presently in talks with several global companies.

Devam says it all seems so sci fi.

“What bigger rush is there to dream up the biggest dream you can, make it reality, and have that saving lives?”

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