A tech company co-founded by two Irish entrepreneurs has entered into a major deal with the US military to commercialise its mobile app.
It's a move that could now see the company's cutting-edge technology deployed on battlefields in Afghanistan and further afield.
Contect Inc is a software company founded in 2013 by a team from Notre Dame University. The firm's president is Shane McQuillan from Monaghan and the lead developer is Tomas Collins, who hails from Cork.
The company's first product is a mobile phone and tablet app which can screen injured people for concussion.
While most tests for concussion involve more subjective elements - such as testing balance and coordination - Contect's mobile application is the first to use speech analysis as its concussion-detection method, focusing on several acoustic features of speech.
The app requires no medical training to operate, can be administered in less than two minutes and is much more difficult to "cheat", unlike existing tests.
American military commanders identified the usefulness of the application for their forces, as soldiers in the US military are often subject to concussions caused by explosions and other incidents on the battlefield where concussion-testing equipment and medical diagnosis is not available.
"The use of speech analysis on a mobile device has the potential to address many of the challenges in assessing brain injury in the battlefield environment," said Michael Husband, product manager in the US army's Medical Devices Program Management Office.
According to McQuillan the US military - which, with a budget of more than $640bn is by far the largest spending military in the world - was "always on our radar".
"One of the major advantages of this deal is the vast depth of experience that the US military has in this area - an estimated 300,000 members of the US military have suffered a traumatic brain injury since 2000 and this partnership will make our application a lot more robust, as well as accelerating the commercialisation of the product," McQuillan said.
The product also has a significant civilian market, most notably in field sports. An estimated 1.7 million athletes suffer traumatic brain injuries each year in the US alone, and earlier this year the start-up received $300,000 in seed-funding from the US National Football League and General Electric.
Sunday Indo Business