Innovation Challenge Finalists Selected By PILOT


PILOT, an innovation initiative of the National Association of Broadcasters, has announced the 12 finalists of its third annual PILOT Innovation Challenge. The competition recognizes creative ideas that leverage technological advances in the production, distribution and display of engaging content and provides winners with development support.

Over 100 concepts were submitted since the call for entries in August. This year’s challenge question is “What is an innovative way broadcasters and other local media could serve communities?”

A five-judge panel will select the top six from the 12 finalists. First, second and third place winners will be determined by participants at the NAB Futures conference, held January 27-29 in Seattle. The remaining participants will be presented with Innovator Awards at the event.

Thanks in part to a grant from Knight Foundation, the six finalists will be awarded cash prizes ranging from $15,000-$30,000. The winners will also receive relevant mentorship, access to key broadcast executives and significant exposure at industry events, like the annual NAB Show, held April 6-11 in Las Vegas.

This year’s finalists are:

  • AR Story Template – Retha Hill, Cronkite Innovation Lab, Arizona State University
    Provides a cost-effective way to create immersive AR stories quickly and without having to understand code.
  • Beam – David Burton
    Beam is an AI mobile platform that enables users to build a personalized newscast using content categorically sourced from local television broadcasts.
  • Big Processing, Local Impact – Daniel Faltesek, Oregon State University
    Provides local news organizations with robust computing and data science capacity.
  • El Timpano – Madeleine Bair
    El Tímpano—Spanish for “eardrum”—informs, engages, and amplifies the voices of Latino immigrants using a community mic and SMS.
  • FlyRight – Samuel Crane 
    Software solution that streamlines drone flight registration for media groups and local law enforcement.
  • Immersive Disaster Effects Application (IDEA) – Ronald Baez, Yellow Wood Immersive
    IDEA is an immersive and interactive 3D mapping tool for use by broadcasters to visualize the effects of weather emergencies.
  • Lawmaking Live – Terry Quinn, The Texas Tribune
    Provides live analysis of policy development and makes the law-making process more accessible to consumers.
  • Open Spaces – Amara Aguilar, USC Annenberg
    Allows users to engage on selected topics using social virtual reality.
  • Podium – Daniel Lewis
    Provides a platform for the public to participate in virtual town halls and crowdsourced interviews.
  • VettNews – Paul Glader
    VettNews is a ratings agency of news organizations and helps combat the rise of misinformation.
  • Voices of TwoOneSix – Mike Shafarenko, Ideastream
    An audio livestream that amplifies original content by underrepresented people in Cleveland.
  • Zagrut – Mario Dcunha, The New School
    Zagrut is a news reader app that guides users against prevalent media bias.