The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division is hosting the Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge. Up to $425,000 will be awarded to winning teams that create haptic interface prototypes that could improve public safety operations.
Public safety officials perform tasks in a variety of environments that severely limit their senses and ability to communicate. This challenge seeks to investigate the relevance of haptic interfaces assisting in first responder tasks, such as monitoring patient vitals, navigating complex spaces with limited visibility, or maintaining situational awareness. The challenge consists of multiple phases and will require contestants to develop three haptic interface prototypes to be integrated into PSCR-provided virtual reality scenarios as well as a final haptic prototype embedded into firefighter PPE for use in a search and rescue task. Contestants will also have the opportunity to demo their initial prototypes with first responders at the 2019 Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting in Chicago, IL.PSCR will assess the efficiency, effectiveness, and level of user satisfaction of the haptic interface prototypes and their ability to assist first responders in conducting their tasks.
The challenge launches March 18, 2019, and concept paper submissions are now due May 3, 2019, at 5 p.m. ET.
Challenge Background & Goals
One goal of the challenge is to assess the potential of using virtual reality as a development tool to prototype and iterate on designs for public safety technology. Contestants will have the opportunity to enhance their prototypes after interacting with public safety stakeholders and receiving feedback on their designs. This challenge also seeks to convene members of the haptic provider community and innovators in the development community to advance the state of haptic interfaces for public safety. PSCR will keep the prototypes for future public safety demonstrations.
Since 2002, PSCR has collaborated with first responders, stakeholders, and innovators to ensure the development of reliable, intuitive, and mission-focused technologies for the public safety community.
In 2018, PSCR launched their first challenge in the User Interface / User Experience (UI/UX) series focused on advancing interfaces that allow a public safety user to effectively interact with and obtain information from the technology system(s) while ensuring the device is designed around public safety’s operational needs. In 2018, PSCR named 6 winners in the Virtual Reality Heads-Up Display Navigation Challenge.
The contestants, consisting of Haptic Providers and Haptic Development Teams, and their haptic interface prototypes will be evaluated in two key areas:
1) How the prototypes impact a first responder’s performance in three virtual reality (VR) scenarios [law enforcement, emergency medical services (EMS), and fire service] and
2) How, once embedded into firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE), the prototypes assist firefighters in a realistic scenario as they navigate and conduct a search and rescue task at a firefighter training facility.
The challenge consists of multiple phases and will require contestants to develop three haptic interface prototypes to be integrated into PSCR-provided virtual reality scenarios as well as a final haptic prototype embedded into firefighter PPE for use in a search and rescue task. After the completion of this challenge, PSCR will keep the submitted prototypes from Phase 4 and Phase 5 for future public safety demonstrations. Contestants are encouraged to develop multiple sets of prototypes throughout the challenge, in anticipation of this PSCR keeping the prototypes for demonstrations, and in case the contestants experience technical difficulties during later phases of the challenge.
View the a complete summary of contest phases and key dates.