DHS S&T awards funds to Kansas City Startup Developing Wearable Tech, Mitigating heat-related injuries

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced a Phase 1 Other Transaction award of $161,600 to Kenzen, Inc., a Kansas City, Missouri, based company to develop wearable technology that helps prevent heat-related injuries for DHS personnel who work in extreme weather conditions.

Under its Human Performance and Resiliency solicitation, S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) sought groundbreaking solutions to identify and resolve issues before reaching crisis levels and to promote resilience and wellness tools that could serve the mission needs of DHS components and programs, including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“Heat illness remains a real problem for DHS employees who routinely work in extreme environments, including along the southern border,” said Melissa Oh, managing director of SVIP. “Technologies that will help our agents know when they are approaching critical conditions by accurately monitoring important physiological metrics like core body temperature levels will have a huge impact in reducing the number of heat-related injuries and keeping our staff safe, even in extreme conditions.”

As part of the first applicants to receive an award under this topic call, Kenzen, Inc., a women-founded and led company, developed a heat illness prevention solution that uses a combination of a wearable sensor and advanced analytics to identify and alert users to changes in core body temperature and other specific factors. This information identifies heat stress so wearers can take preventative measures sooner, reducing the risk of serious illness.

“Kenzen’s technology will safeguard the wellness of our agents who often find themselves in unpredictable environments throughout their workdays,” said Jeremy Ocheltree, deputy director of the Customs and Border Protection Innovation Team. “This type of innovative tech could protect our employees and save lives.”

This solicitation complements current DHS employee wellness programs by including innovative technologies with a high degree of usability to support real-time wellness monitoring. Kenzen’s heat-stress mitigation solution could deliver important information to DHS users working in extreme heat environments, addressing a critical health challenge that impacts the DHS mission.

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