MedCognition Making Augmented Reality Emergency Training for US Army

San Antonio—MedCognition, a startup that uses an augmented reality system to train emergency medical technicians and other first responders on how to treat injuries, has earned a $750,000 grant from the US Army to collaborate with another organization on developing a version of its system for military use.

MedCognition plans to spend the next 12 months creating training modules that can be used to prepare healthcare workers for combat and mass casualty situations, the company says. The project could turn into a revenue stream for the San Antonio-based company if all goes well when the US Army reviews it, says Kevin King, the startup’s CEO.

The MedCognition software, which it calls PerSim, helps train medical workers using holograms of lifelike patients that can be superimposed on top of lifeless mannequins with virtual reality headsets. Viewing the program through a Microsoft HoloLens device, the trainees can practice anything from handling breathing problems to aiding someone who had a stroke.

MedCognition will be splitting the grant with Chenega Healthcare Services, a contractor that provides services such as staffing, research, logistics, and consulting to healthcare and environmental-focused businesses. It is a subsidiary of Chenega Corp., an Anchorage, AK-based Alaska Native Corp., or ANC, founded in 1974. ANCs were made possible by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, which committed almost $1 billion from the federal government to be given to native tribes, in connection with the government’s interest in extracting Alaskan oil, according to Chenega. ANCs like Chenega were developed to use some of that money to invest in business and contracting services for the government and private companies, with some of the profits (ideally) being returned to shareholders who are members of the community.

Chenega Healthcare Services is managing the administration and financial aspects of the contract, while MedCognition will handle the technical development aspects, King wrote in an e-mail. He declined to disclose additional financial terms.

King was himself a combat physician in the Army before becoming a faculty member at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He developed the MedCognition system with other clinicians and computer scientists at UT Health and the University of Texas at San Antonio. They founded the company in 2016.

For private purchase, the cost of using PerSim varies depending on an organization’s demands, but starts at less than $10,000, King says.

MedCognition has raised about $250,000 previously, mostly from company founders, friends, and family. That includes a series of grants from the University of Texas System amounting to about $50,000, King says.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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