Virtual Reality Heads-Up-Display Navigation Challenge (NIST/

NIST challenge seeks VR display for first responders

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has launched a challenge for a virtual reality-based heads-up display to improve first responder navigation by delivering location-based services in a VR environment.

The challenge is sponsored by NIST's Public Safety Communications Research Division, through its new Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program that funds virtual reality- and augmented reality-based improvements to mobile communication systems for emergency responders.

The four-stage challenge will award up to $125,000 in prize money for the top seven designs that improve user interface technology. Anyone can submit a concept paper until Jan. 26, after which 30 invited contestants will be asked to code their ideas based on a Vive Unreal VR environment. The resulting code will be evaluated on compliance, general usability and functionality.

The top 16 contestants will participate in prototype testing where they will be provided a fully functional VR environment, scenario details (hostage situation or earthquake, for example) and operational parameters (i.e., oxygen levels, hazard locations) for police and firefighter use cases. The top 10 participants will compete in the final contest of the challenge.

PSCR is also sponsoring challenges to develop an indoor localization and tracking app for Android smartphones. Last year, it crowdsourced ideas that used virtual/immersive environments in conjunction with physical spaces to create accurate first responder scenarios and a repeatable test environment.

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