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2019 Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge

This image depicts a police officer, EMT, and a firefighter with the text: "Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge: Results are in!"

Congratulations to the winners of the Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge for demonstrating the relevancy of haptic feedback for public safety. 

Since March 2019, contestants investigated the potential of haptic interfaces to assist first responder tasks in both virtual reality and real-world scenarios. Partnering with PSCR on this challenge was the First Responder Network Authority, FirstNet built with AT&T, MSA Safety, and the West Metro Fire Protection District (CO).

The contestants, consisting of Haptic Providers and Haptic Development Teams, and their haptic interface prototypes were evaluated in two key areas: 

  • How the prototypes impact a first responder's performance in three virtual reality (VR) scenarios [law enforcement, emergency medical services (EMS), and fire service], and
  • How, once embedded into firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE), the prototypes assist firefighters in a realistic scenario as they navigate and conduct a search and rescue task at a firefighter training facility.
NIST PSCR Haptic Interfaces Challenge Final Recap
NIST PSCR Haptic Interfaces Challenge Final Recap
Overview and recap of the Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Prize Challenge.

Participating teams were awarded prizes, up to a total prize amount of $425,000, at each of the following phases: 

  • Phase 1: Concept Paper
  • Phase 2: Teaming
  • Phase 3: Demonstration of Prototypes in Virtual Reality
  • Phase 4: Evaluation of Prototypes in Virtual Reality
  • Phase 5: Evaluation at Firefighter Navigation Course

For the final phase, teams competed by remotely controlling their haptic interface prototypes worn by subject matter experts and contest judges navigating a firefighter training course. The judging panel performed a final evaluation of all contestants' submissions and announced the winners on November 15, 2019.

Additional goals of this challenge were to assess the potential of using VR environments as a development tool to prototype and iterate on designs for public safety technologies. Visit the NIST GitHub page to view and download the VR source code used in this challenge.

Haptic Development Teams:

Carnegie Mellon University logo

1st place: Carnegie Mellon University

Total Prize Amount: $43,500

Read more.



3rd place: ENGR Dynamics

Total Prize Amount: $32,500

ENGR Dynamics logo
Haply logo

2nd place: Haply 

Total Prize Amount: $32,500

Read more.                           





4th place: Team DSGN

Total Prize Amount: $22,500

Team DSGN logo

Haptic Providers:


Engineering Acoustics, Inc. logo including the word HAPTICS

1st place: Engineering Acoustics, Inc.

Total Prize Amount: $43,500

Read more.

Janus Research Group logo

2nd place: Janus Research Group

Total Prize Amount: $45,000

Read more.


Five other contestants that did not advance to the final phase of the challenge received a total of $50,000 in prizes. PSCR would like to thank all Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge participants for their hard work and dedication to creating innovative haptic-based technology for the public safety community.

To find out more information about the challenge and the winners, visit

Created March 14, 2019, Updated July 19, 2022