For anyone who's ever seen what a hackathon can do in terms of creating new products and services, the recent word out of Nokia Bell Labs (News - Alert) should be especially thrilling. It's time again for the Nokia Bell Labs Prize competition, an event that seeks to bring reward to the best in ideas in next generation communications and beyond, with prizes for the winners...including a chance to bring some ideas to life.
The Nokia (News - Alert) Bell Labs Prize—now in its fourth year—offers awards to those in science, technology, engineering, and even next generation communications that present ideas that change the nature of human existence itself by at least a factor of 10.
Granted, that's really subjective, but Nokia Bell Labs is opening up the floodgates in a bid to find these ideas, whether in next generation communications or beyond. It's calling in researchers and other innovators from around the world to step in on this action, and is accepting proposals through May 1, 2017. Top prizes reach as high as $175,000, and the first three place ideas will be invited to join Nokia Bell Labs researchers in a collaborative effort to actually produce these ideas.
Last year, one of these awards went to a pair of doctoral students from the University of Southern California—Hooman Abediasi and Sungwon Chung—along with their professor Hossein Hashemi. The group came up with an idea that would drive nano-technology forward, a “large-scale plasmonic optical phased-array technology.” With this system in play, it would drive significant advancement in several fields ranging from diagnostic systems for medicine to sensor systems for self-driving cars.
There are few better ways to open up the pipes on exciting new ideas—in next generation communications or most any other field—than to offer not only free cash to the best ideas, but also the ability to see these ideas become actual products. It's probably the case that Nokia Bell Labs would benefit from the development a lot more than the actual creator would, but with around a fifth of a million dollars in hand from a properly-executed idea proposal and the chance to be the one “who came up with X,” it's likely got a lot of scientific minds humming.
Ideas are the foundation for the next generation perhaps more than anything else. After all, what really exists today that didn't start out as an idea somewhere? The Nokia Bell Labs awards will go a long way toward bringing out the very best in ideas in the future, and more than ever, we need those ideas.