Nokia Bell Labs opens competition to improve life


Fourth annual competition seeks top global innovators and researchers with ‘Future X’ technology ideas to improve the human experience

Nokia Bell Labs has opened its global competition for the fourth annual Nokia Bell Labs Prize. The Prize recognises innovators with game-changing ideas in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with the potential to disrupt or profoundly change the state of human existence and experience by a factor of 10.

Researchers, scientists and innovators in participating countries around the globe are invited to enter their idea proposals until 1 May 2017. Prizes up to $175,000 will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners, who will also be rewarded with an opportunity to collaborate with world-renowned Nokia Bell Labs researchers on the development of their ideas.

The Nokia Bell Labs Prize competition is geared towards innovative proposals that look to solve broader societal and humanistic challenges. These might include ideas that offer disruptive innovations connecting all humans, senses, things, systems, infrastructure, or processes that enable a future where new knowledge is created with an associated ‘sixth sense’ whose purpose is to save time.

Marcus Weldon, president of Nokia Bell Labs and CTO at Nokia, said: “The energy, innovation and collaboration the Nokia Bell Labs Prize brings to our industry and our research community is incredible, and I am always amazed at the breadth of ideas this competition generates. We look forward to a new round of entries and are excited by the possibilities to fundamentally change our world in profound ways.”

The competition continues Nokia Bell Labs’ tradition of finding solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing the information and telecommunications industry. Nearly 1,000 applicants have submitted ideas to the Nokia Bell Labs Prize competition since its inception in 2014. Previous finalists have come from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and the U.S. They include grand prize winners offering solutions that enable a better Internet of Things (IoT), and new ways to simplify Big Data to extract actionable information and knowledge.

In 2016, a team of two PhD students from the University of Southern California, Sungwon Chung and Hooman Abediasl, along with their professor, Hossein Hashemi, created large scale plasmonic optical phased-array technology, an architectural innovation for nano devices. Together, they developed the technology to enable a wide range of applications across free-space communications, biomedical diagnostics, and inexpensive sensing for self-driving cars.

In 2015, Brandon Lucia, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, presented a new way for developers to bring their communications and sensing applications into environments with scarce energy, such as inside living organisms, or attached to infrastructure without access to power, or even in deep space. Unlike traditional machines with tethered power or batteries, these outage-tolerant systems can compute intermittently and even scavenge their surroundings for energy.

And in 2014, Emmanuel Abbe, assistant professor at Princeton University, proposed new algorithms and methods for extracting actionable information from Big Data.  In doing so, he was able to apply the information theory limit developed by Bell Labs pioneer Claude Shannon to make practical, fast computations on massive social and complex graph-based networks.


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