Virtual Reality Innovation Challenge

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August 14, 2018


Virtual reality and related technologies enable the blending of what is real and virtual. This powerful capability extends our ability to experience the world through sensory based human computer interactions.

Virtual reality is crossing into the realm of affordable, development is becoming less specialized, as a result the use cases for VR and related technologies are exploding.

The Opportunity

The VR Innovation Challenge invites you to develop a use case into a novel and innovative system that utilizes virtual, cinematic, augmented, or mixed reality to address and solve a real world problem. The proposed solution should be immersive, visually appealing, and intuitive to interact with.

The innovative design your team develops is the key to your success.

The Contest

The deadline for proposal submissions is September 23, 2018. Finalists will be announced though the VR Challenge portal on September 28, 2018. Finalists will receive funding to implement their proposed solution. A capability demonstration, the “show off” will be conducted at the conclusion of the Innovation Challenge.

Proposal Submission Deadline
September 23, 2018

Download Proposal Template

Submit Proposal



Virtual Reality Innovation Challenge Finalists

Virtual Reality Innovation Challenge Training and Tutorials

Virtual Reality Innovation Boot Camps


Contest details


Virtual Reality (VR) Innovation Challenge Overview

For the Challenge, teams can identify an existing real world problem and develop their own novel and innovating solution using Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), or Cinematic Reality (CR). Teams will develop their program plan around the problems and solution they have identified. If selected, teams will then implement and demonstrate their solution during the course of the Innovation Challenge.


The VR challenge has sponsors who have topics that lend themselves to being resolved with a VR solution. Teams can develop a solution for a problem from one of this year’s Innovation Challenge sponsors. Finalists will work collaboratively with sponsors, receiving mentorship and guidance on the development of the VR solution. Sponsor Topics Include:

VR Innovation Challenge Sponsor: Planet
Space based Earth focused remote sensing has entered a new phase of capability and availability. Global revisit rates of one day with resolutions as fine as 2 meters are now available from Planet. Develop a novel cutting edge solution to a real world problem using Planet imagery and a VR or AR solution. Planet will provide 3-5 SkySat videos to teams that take on this challenge. In addition to data finalists who develop a solution for Planet will receive mentorship from the Planet team

VR Innovation Challenge Sponsor: Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA)
Verbal, numerical, and financial descriptions of damage caused by natural disasters are difficult to comprehend. Immerse someone into the event with VR and the extent of damage instantly becomes understandable.
Develop a novel cutting edge solution to a real world problem of post disaster damage assessment utilizing UAS/UAV captured video and VR or AR solution. Finalists accepting this challenge will receive mentorship from the DEMA team.

VR Innovation Challenge Sponsor: Northstar Satellite Services
Space is multidimensional. Traditional display methods depicting orbiting objects in essentially two dimensions, distorting the representation of the objects and their trajectories. A VR or AR solution that enables multidimensional rendering of space objects, their orbits, and the repercussions of their orbits (like collisions) will tremendously enhance space situational awareness.
Develop a space situational awareness capability for orbiting objects that includes object collision avoidance orbit planning using an VR or AR solution. Finalists accepting this challenge will receive mentorship from the Northstar team.

VR Innovation Challenge Sponsor: ASURE(Sponsor TBD)
Urban operations are typified by confined areas, preponderance of the terrain above ground level, narrow streets, and very short communications capabilities. Using VR to rapidly prototype and demonstrate a novel and innovative urban operations vehicle facilitates conceptual and operational evaluation prior to prototype development (leading to greater capability and reduced development times).
Develop a functional conceptual design for the Army’s Next Generation Urban Combat vehicle and VR or AR solution. Finalists will receive mentorship from the ASURE(TBD) team.

The innovative design your team develops is the key to your success.

Virtual Reality Innovation Challenge Objectives

The challenge has a number of objectives, in particular to:

  • Provide an opportunity for students to learn practical skills for industry;
  • Provide an opportunity for students to develop and demonstrate teamwork, leadership and commercial skills as well as technical competence;
  • Foster collaboration across Arizona State University in the VR technology areas and to provide a forum for interdisciplinary research; and
  • Rapidly innovate and develop solutions and capabilities that can be marketed as products for the commercial and government market.

Competition Overview

Proposal Submissions

Only one submission shall be submitted per team. Submissions must be made using the Proposal Submission Template

By submitting participants accept all provisions of the Official Rules and agree to abide by all decisions made by the ASURE.

Please submit your proposal to

ASURE reserves the right to change, postpone or cancel any aspect of the competition for any reason.

Submissions must be received no later than September 23, 2018 at 11:59PM (Arizona Time). Submission received after this time are not eligible to take part in the Innovation Challenge.

Eligibility and Team Structure

The competition is open to ASU undergraduate or graduate student 18 years of age and older. There is no size constraint to the number of students allowed on one team.

An ASU faculty member is required for each team as an advisor. Once faculty member can advise multiple teams.

A team manager is required for each team. The team manager is team’s official liaison with ASURE. For the purposes of Innovation Challenge the team manager is responsible for scheduling the team’s activities and acting as a central point of contact for the team.

A team safety lead is required for each team. The team safety lead should ensure the team operates in a safe manner by reinforcing safe practices, leading the appropriate safety briefing and following the safety procedures.

The Innovation Challenge, while having a set of defined performance objectives to achieve, is as much about teamwork as it is innovation.


There is no entry fee required for participation in the Innovation Challenge.

Teams ultimately selected to move forward with design development will receive funding to support the development of their proposed design solution. The funding amount will be determined by the evaluation committee based on the number of teams ultimately selected.

Each team will be required to keep a Bill Of Materials (BOM) workbook documenting the use of the funds. The BOM lists each purchase to include quantity, unit cost, and a link to the product and services purchased, made with challenge funds. Finalists will be provided with a BOM template for use during the challenge. Teams are also required to maintain all invoices and or receipts for any funds used for the Innovation Challenge and present these at the conclusion of the Innovation Challenge or when requested.

Innovation Challenge Support

A key measure of success for the Challenge is the ability of each team to show up to the demonstration with a viable capability. To best support this goal the ASURE team provides support to the individual teams taking part in the challenge. This can include specific questions about the challenge, requests for specific types of support, program management assistance and issue resolution.


Points of Contact



Chris Fortunato

Lloyd Brown

Innovation Challenge Safety Officer

Jonathan Klane

Intellectual Property

Shen Yan


Intellectual Property

IP generated as a result of participating in the Innovation Challenge will be owned by the Arizona Board of Regents.

Finalists will declair and protect existing IP at the kick-off meeting the SkySong Innovations. IP arising out of the Innovation Challenge will be managed by SkySong Innovations; they can be contacted at any time to answer your questions.

Revenue generated by IP developed during the effort will be shared with ASU, ASURE and the developing team.

Teams should not publish on topics related to their designs or post images of their system to social media or other public venues until the teams have disclosed and discussed this information with SkySong Innovations, failure to do so may result in loss of certain IP rights.


Innovation Challenge Schedule

Date Event Description
17 August 2018 Formal announcement of challenge and open for submissions.
23 September 2018 Innovation Challenge is closed for submissions.
28 September 2018 Finalists are announced.
5 October 2018 Innovation Challenge Kick-Off Meeting for all teams
Specific Date To Be Determined VR Coding Boot Camp
2 November 2018 Teams schedule Preliminary Design Review (first come first serve)
12 November 2018 Teams conduct Preliminary Design Review
25 January 2019 Teams schedule Critical Design Review (first come first serve)
8 February 2019 Teams conduct Critical Design Review
5 April 2019 Teams schedule Demonstration Readiness Review (first come first serve)
5 April 2019 Teams schedule capability demonstration and Show-Off time (first come first serve)
6 April 2019 Teams install solution and conduct formal practice for Show-Off
19 April 2019 Teams conduct Demonstration Readiness Review
20 April 2019 Capability demonstration, the Show Off
20 April 2019 Awards Ceremony

Design and Operational Requirements

Requirements Overview

The Innovation Challenge has been designed to expose students to a number of disciplines they will need in their careers. Factors the evaluation team will be looking for include:

  • A methodical systems engineering approach to identify the requirements, selection of concept with a design to meet those requirements, and the test to confirm that the actual system meets the requirements in practice;
  • An elegant and immersive design solution, supported by an appropriate depth of analysis;
  • Innovation in the approach to solving the engineering challenges;
  • An appreciation of the practical design issues and sound design principles essential for a successful, robust and a reliability; e.g. asthetic qualities, ease of use, modular design for integration of future capacities, intuitive design, interface, and controls;
  • Good planning and team-work; organizing the team to divide up roles and responsibilities. Good communication and planning will be essential to achieve a successful, competitive entry that is on time and properly tested prior to the show off event.

Development Environment

A team’s faculty advisor is responsible for providing adequate and appropriate space for system design, coding, development and testing.

Unreal and Unity VR engines are recommended for development during the program. Both development environments are available for free and download on the web. There are also extensive tutorials available for both online.

System Design Requirements

The Innovation Challenge is to design, develop, and demonstrate a virtual reality solution for a real world problem. Teams will include System Design Requirements that are the “shall have” capabilities that represent the minimum system capabilities presented for the challenge. The Innovation Challenge seeks to test a number of requirements.

Enhanced System Capabilities

EThe inclusion of Enhanced System Capabilities above and beyond System Design Requirement are at the discretion of the team. However, these types of capabilities can create a more technological advanced and innovative solution. Teams must balance cost, capability, and schedule to ensure the enhanced capability can be integrated within the Innovation Challenge constraints.

Development Methods

Teams are expected to conduct methodical systems engineering approach to identify the requirements, selection of concept with a design to meet those requirements, and test to confirm that the actual system meets the requirements in practice.

Teams shall have design artifacts that define the hardware, software, electrical, and signal, designed to sufficient detail to support production of the system.

Key Performance Measures (KPM) should be identified by teams based upon their specific design. These include key requirements such as (but not limited to) processing capacity, cost, and storage. KPMs should estimate requirements to evaluate margins and compliance with requirements. Key Performance Measures shall be tracked over time until actual measurements are taken.


The Innovation Challenge Safety Officer (DSO) is Jonathan Klane (, 480-965-8498). Any questions regarding safety and safe operation of the system should be directed to the DSO.


Review Committees

Review Committees are used to provide a multi-disciplined perspective of the Innovation Challenge proposals. Review Committee members are drawn from academia, agencies developing and soliciting virtual reality related technology, defense and aerospace industry, entertainment, and technology developers.

Committee members apply a rubric and their specific perspective to evaluate designs during the initial submission phase. During design reviews the Review Committee evaluates the design of the system at a particular phase of development and provides teams with insight and guidance to address potential problems and enhance the capability being developed.

Members of the Review Committee who are not ASU or ASURE employees will sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and Intellectual Property Rights waiver prior to attending the event.


Challenge Activities

Initial Submission

The initial submission for the Innovation Challenge is a proposal that identifies the team taking part in the Innovation Challenge, including the Faculty Advisor and a description of the system being proposed.

Teams will complete the Proposal Submisson Template and submit the package no later than September 23, 2018 at 11:59PM (Arizona Time). Submission received after this time are not eligible to take part in the Innovation Challenge. Eligible submissions are evaluated by the Review Committee based upon on innovation, technical merit, and ability to produce the solution. Based upon the proposal evaluation an initial down select will occur.

Finalists announced on 13 October 2018

In Progress Reviews

Progress is monitored during the conceptualization, development, and production phases through a series of reviews with Review Committees and the teams. The primary goal of the review is to ensure the teams develop their intended solution and resolve any roadblocks to development.

Teams will schedule the specific time and date for their review using the Innovation Challenge website on a first come, first served basis. To the fullest extent possible the entire team is expected to be present and support the reviews.

Status Meetings

Status meetings will be conducted with the ASURE team on an every other week basis with all teams taking part in the challenge. The goal is to provide status on the development of the solution, discuss and help to address issues early in the development process and to evaluate status and address issues early in the development cycle.

Initial Design Review

The Initial Design Review evaluates the architecture of the system (and subsystems) to ensure the design has an expectation of being developed within the allotted budget and schedule and accomplish the goals of the Innovation Challenge. The review will assess the design documentation (conceptual design and specific hardware and software designs), cost estimates, Key Performance Measure, and risks to implementation.

Teams will complete the Initial Design Review template for this review and submit the review package prior to the review. The Initial Design review is anticipated to take approximately 15 minutes followed by a brief question and answer phase. Teams may add additional information into the back-up section of the briefing to add context and demonstrate the maturity of the design.

Development/Production Review

The Development/Production Review evaluates the maturity of the design and assesses the design's readiness for the demonstration. The review will focus on ability of the design to meet the team’s requirements and adequate design definition to support development.

Teams will complete the Development Review template for this review and submit the review package prior to the review. The Development readiness reviews are anticipated to take approximately 15 minutes followed by a brief question and answer phase. Teams may add additional information into the back-up section of the briefing to add context and demonstrate the maturity of the design.

Demonstration Readiness Review

The Demonstration Readiness Review evaluates that the system has demonstrated it can satisify the design requirements established by the team, and complete the challenge. The review will focus on the developed system and demonstration using VR goggles and required interface devices.

Teams will complete the Demonstration Readiness Review template for this review and submit the review package prior to the review. Demonstration Readiness Review is anticipated to take approximately 10 minutes followed by static display and briefing of the developed system. Teams may add additional information into the back-up section of the briefing to add context and demonstrate the maturity of the design.

Data Sheet

Teams will be required to develop and deliver a data sheet on the design using the provided template. The datasheet is very similar to marketing material and will be used to advertise the capability to a broader audience.

Show Off

The final phase of program is a showoff event to demonstrate the technical implementation and operational capabilities developed by the various teams. The Review Committee will assess each team’s system based upon the applicability of the team’s solution to their stated problem, the impact of the immersive environment, and the innovation.

Teams will also be given an order of events and strict time schedule for the Show Off. The schedule is necessarily tight and teams who are not ready to conduct their demonstration at their appointed slot time will be disqualified. It is expected that teams will conduct the demonstration with the system defined during the Preliminary Design Review.

The specific date and location for the Show-Off will be announced at a later date.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does the proposal have to be about virtual reality?
No. Proposals can include Augmented, Mixed, Virtual, and Cinematic reality.

Can teams augment the budget with additional funding?
No. Team budgets have been established to create a standard unit cost for a system and also ensure all teams have equal funding.

I just submitted our proposal and noticed and error, can I submit and update?
Yes. Updates to proposals can be submitted, only the latest version will be evaluated as part of the Innovation Challenge.

Can I use technology I’ve worked on previously?
Yes. The goal is to develop an innovative solution, this can include work you completed previously.

Can a solution include multiple users?
Yes. A solution for a team, or several individual working independently or as part of a team is acceptable.

I have an idea for a virtual realty solution that is not specifically listed in the Innovation Challenge documentation, can I submit the idea?
Yes. One of the goals of the Innovation Challenge is to get the broadest perspective and solution set possible..

Can I use commercial or Open Source software as part of my proposal?
Yes. Commercial and Open Source software can be used in accordance with the EULA. However software costs must be included as part of the budget.

Can I use a development environment other than Unreal or Unity?
No. Unreal and Unity are the only development environment supported by the Challenge.

Do we have to design everything from scratch?
No. System designs can utilize commercially available products in their design.