Emergency Response

Apply now! Due date is Jan 26th for the PSCR NIST First Responder VR Heads-up-display Navigation Challenge

The submissions of the prize challenge are due to us on Jan 26th

Public Safety VR AR.png

The Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Program of the National Institute for Standards & Technology (NIST) is conducting The First Responder Virtual Reality Heads-up-display Navigation Challenge.  This concept and design challenge is open to academia, solvers and developers across the country and will award cash prizes up to $125,000 to the Top challenge participants who submit virtual reality heads up displays for First Responders to be evaluated in a series of navigation challenges. 

Join this exciting VR (virtual reality) competition using your software coding, UI (use interface) and VR expertise for a concept heads-up display (HUD).  Use VR/HUDtechnology to help America’s first responders! You’ll showcase your VR skills as a finalist at the 2018 PSCR Stakeholder conference with paid travel, speaking engagements and networking with 500+ attendees! NO entry fee! Go to challenge.gov for details about “The First Responder Virtual Reality Heads-up-display Navigation Challenge” and ENTER TODAY or by January 26, 2018.

Challenge Details

Create HUD concept with Location-Based Services (LBS) capabilities in a VR environment

Join us for this exciting VR (virtual reality) prize competition using your ingenuity, software coding and VR expertise to create a concept for a heads-up display (HUD) with unimpeded visual aids.  The result of the First Responder Virtual Reality (VR) Heads-up-Display (HUD) Navigation Challenge will support the public safety community and its stakeholders.

You (the contestant) will showcase your VR skills and create a solution that helps advance User Interface (UI) technology through research.  UI is “the means by which a user and a technology system interact; including how users input, access, and navigate data and communications through the technology.”  Examples of UIs are haptic feedback mechanisms (e.g., sound, vibration), vocal commands, and visual indicators (e.g., heads-up displays).  Historically, UI design has been broad and rarely targeted for Public Safety however, it’s critical that first responders complete their tasks efficiently and effectively with minimum impediment.

NIST Public Safety Communications Research Program is hosting this 4-stage challenge, with prize awards up to $125,000 (prizes plus travel) for the top 7 designs. In addition to the cash prize, finalists will have speaking engagements, networking opportunities, and paid travel to the 2018 PSCR Stakeholder conference. There are no fees or qualifications to enter the first stage.  The Stage 1 winning ideas will be eligible for remaining stages of the competition. (see Official Rules)

You can make a difference!  Continue reading for contest stages and details, and enter by January 26, 2018, on Challenge.gov (click on submit tab).


For questions about Challenge or Official Rules, contact PSprizes@nist.gov.


STAGE 1: CONCEPT PAPER CONTEST (open 1/2/17 – close 1/26/18)

STAGE 2: WORKING CONCEPT AND HUD PROTOTYPE (open 2/5/18 – close 3/9/18)

STAGE 3: HUD PROTOTYPE TEST & EVALUATION ROUND 1 (open 3/19/18 – close 5/11/18)

STAGE 4: HUD PROTOTYPE TEST & EVALUATION ROUND 2 (open 6/4/18 – close 6/9/18)



The following is only a summary of each contest. For more information please review the full details of each contest terms and conditions as provided throughout this document.

STAGE 1: Concept Paper Contest

The Concept Paper Contest invites all eligible contestants to complete a concept paper outlining their knowledge, skills, capabilities and approach for this challenge. The contest will be divided into two groups; concepts for Firefighters and concepts for Law Enforcement. Contestants’ concept papers will be reviewed by a panel of subject matter experts and judges to select those contestants to be invited to the challenge kickoff webinar. Contestants selected by the judge panel will be eligible to move forward to the Working Concept and HUD Prototype contest.

STAGE 2: Working Concept and HUD Prototype

The Working Concept and HUD Prototype contest will be open to up to 30 invited contestants. Contestants will bring their concept to life by creating the software code for compliance testing, based on a Vive Unreal VR environment, and evaluation of general usability and functionality. Contestants can create their working concept HUD prototype in any compliant environment. Based on the compliance testing and functional evaluation, up to 16 contestants will be invited to participate in the next contest, HUD Prototype Test & Evaluation Round 1.

STAGE 3: HUD Prototype Test & Evaluation Round 1

PSCR will provide up to 16 contestants with a fully functional VR environment, scenario details (i.e., Law Enforcement Hostage and Fire Fighter Earthquake) and operational parameters for fire (i.e., Oxygen levels, temperatures, victim location, hazard locations) and law enforcement scenarios (i.e., hostage location, partner location, threat location, time-based hazard) to contestants for interactive testing and evaluation of their initial HUD prototype. Each contestant’s HUD prototype must meet UI/UX and functional navigation elements, for example, oxygen/time-based hazard and temperature for fire. The contestants are encouraged to collaborate with mentors and advisors and complete a series of interactive tests and evaluations to improve their prototype. Up to 10 contestants will be invited to the HUD Prototype Test & Evaluation Round 2 contest. Contestants invited will receive travel funding to attend the June 2018 PSCR Stakeholders Meeting, up to $4,000 per contestant or team, and compete in the final contest of the challenge.

STAGE 4: HUD Prototype Test & Evaluation Round 2

Contestants will complete a series of live demonstrations using their HUD prototype in NIST PSCR’s virtual reality environment at the June 2018 PSCR Stakeholders Meeting. Each contestant will have the opportunity to attend the meeting, interact with over 500 meeting contestants who represent all segments of the Public Safety community, and compete for up to seven (7) cash prizes. HUD prototypes will be tested and evaluated by the NIST PSCR Judge panel for final awards (1st Place $25,000; 2nd $20,000; 3rd $15,000; 4th $10,000; 5th $7,500; 6th $5,000; 7th $2,500).


Judging Criteria

Stage 1 Criterion 1: Strategic Alignment & Technical Outcome - 50%

This criterion involves consideration of the following factors:

Strategic Alignment – The extent to which the proposed approach meets the objectives listed in the goals of the challenge; the responsiveness to the firefighter and law enforcement scenarios; the likelihood that successful implementation of the proposed solution will have a significant real-world impact.

Technical Outcome – Extent to which the proposed approach will result in significant improvement in commercially available technology and will potentially result in a technical outcome which enables considerable progress toward the challenge goals. 


Stage 1 Criterion 2: Feasibility & Team - 50%

This criterion involves consideration of the following factors:

Team – The extent to which the capability of the contestant(s) can address all aspects of the proposed project with a high chance of success, including, but not limited to, qualifications, relevant expertise, and time commitment of the contestants. Reviewers will evaluate: (a) The relevance of the qualifications and experience of the key staff, leadership, and technical experts. (b) The extent of the applicants’ prior experience and the quality of the results achieved in leading programs similar in nature to the purpose, scope, etc.

Plan – Contestant(s) plan to manage the limited schedule, resources, project risks and other challenges, and produce high quality project outcomes, in pursuit of the challenge goals.

* SEE Official Rules for judging criteria associated with all other Stages of the contest


How to Enter

  • Visit Challenge.gov, review the series of contests in The First Responder VR HUD Navigation Challenge.
  • Complete the submission requirements for the Concept Paper Contest, submit the required concept paper and summary slide, and, as an option, include sketches or mock-up video with your entry as a registered contestant via Challenge.gov by the required date.
  • Additional information on how to complete a contestant entry is available at: https://www.challenge.gov/how-it-works/
  • Contestants may only complete a concept paper for either the Firefighter or the Law Enforcement group within the Concept Paper contest.
  • One entry per qualified contestant.