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Judges for the Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge wearing firefighter personal protective equipment pose together; judge wearing firefighter gear tests haptic prototype

Winners Announced in Public Safety Haptics Challenge

November 21, 2019

This week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division announced the winners of its Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge.

Underway since March 2019, the challenge investigated how haptic interfaces can assist first responder operations. Haptic interfaces are a unique type of technology that produces sensory cues in equipment or devices, such as vibrations. For firefighters, who typically work in low-visibility environments, this type of technology presents enormous opportunities. PSCR collaborated with the First Responder Network Authority; FirstNet, Built with AT&T; MSA Safety; and the West Metro Fire Protection District (CO) on this challenge in order to explore potential haptic solutions in both virtual reality and real-world scenarios.

Through multiple phases, teams of developers refined prototype designs with input from first responders, innovators, and technology experts. The challenge culminated in a live test hosted by the West Metro Fire Protection District. Participants embedded their final haptic interface prototypes into firefighter protective equipment (PPE), such as helmets and gloves, which firefighters and contest judges then tested over the course of two days.

Teams competed by remotely controlling their haptic interface prototypes while first responders and judges navigated a firefighter training course. The judging panel performed a final evaluation of all contestants' submissions and announced the winners this week:

Haptic Development Teams 

  • 1st place: Carnegie Mellon University ($25,000)
  • 2nd place: Haply ($20,000)

Haptic Providers

  • 1st place: Engineering Acoustics, Inc. ($20,000) 
  • 2nd place: Janus Research Group ($10,000)

Congratulations to all participants involved! This challenge highlighted the advancements that can happen when first responders, government leaders, and technology developers come together to develop tech for good. For a complete list of winners and for more information about the challenge, visit

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