The near-death experience of an Alberta woman could help save lives in outer space, thanks NASA’s interest in a local tech company.

Aris MD out of Sherwood Park recently won the top prize from the NASA iTech competition at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Their pitch was the Google Maps of surgical medicine: a 3D real-time imaging system of the human body that would allow physicians on Earth to work with astronauts in space during medical procedures.

“Our technology can be used by astronauts while they're on a spaceship, doing remote medicine, diagnostic to make sure their health is OK, radioing back to doctors on Earth,” explained co-founder Chandra Devam. “Maybe even having someone doing operations on them.”

The tech uses augmented and virtual reality to overlay diagnostic images—like MRI, CT, x-ray and ultrasound—over patients during an operation to give surgeons a better guide of the patient’s anatomy and pathology.

The idea was inspired by Devam’s own close call.

“I had a very simple operation that should have been day surgery,” she recalled. “They hit an artery not knowing it was there. I started bleeding out. I need a blood transfusion to save my life.”

The technology could potentially prevent the same thing by allowing physicians—or astronauts—see a person’s anatomical differences.

“We’re as different on the inside as we are on the outside, so our hearts are in different places, literally,” Devam said.

“That was when we developed the technology and came up with the patents to basically give doctors x-ray vision. They can see through you and see where everything is.”

Aris MD will be attending a conference at The Hague in The Netherlands.

However, the company has to keep mum on any potential work with NASA since winning the competition—but the recent success still serves as fresh inspiration.

“Now we have the space bug.”

With files from David Ewasuk