Bell Labs continues to lead the industry into the future: identifying promising ideas with its second annual prize competition

Of course along the way Bell Labs also continues to deliver ground-breaking innovations including  optical networking innovations  that could boost existing capacity by 10x or more; wireless innovations that will define the 5G era;  ‘wired’ innovations that make it possible to send 10Gbps over 100 year old copper wires; algorithms that allow optimal routing of traffic that can dramatically improve the efficiency of IP and optical networks; and the launch of a new consulting arm to help customers understand the shape of the future network.

This week Bell Labs punctuated its non-stop year with one last industry-defining event -- the announcement of its Second Annual Bell Labs Prize winner.   In 2015 the competition attracted a wide range of industry impacting ideas from 33 countries that were whittled down to seven teams of finalists who presented their ideas to a group of esteemed judges in the final judging event.

The first prize ($100,000) was awarded to Brandon Lucia, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University for his work on OIC: The Operating System for Intermittent Computing.  Lucia developed a new class of intelligent computer systems that use novel hardware and software techniques to operate reliably using intermittent or unreliable power.  These systems will enable application developers to create high-reliability applications for intermittent systems that will form an essential part of the Internet of Things, effectively extending the reach of computing, sensing, and communication technology into environments with scarce energy, such as inside the body and in space.  

Given the unanimous nature of the winning decisions, the judges did not award a second prize but presented joint third prize awards ($25,000 each) to two projects. The first was a group of three from Technische Universität München (TUM): George Böcherer (Senior researcher), Fabian Steiner and Patrick Schulte (PhD candidates) for their work on a practical method for closing the Ultimate Gap to Shannon Capacity in any communication channel. 

The other third place winner was Stojan Radic (Professor at UC San Diego) who presented on what he called a ‘Photon-Engine for Clouds’, a novel laser structure that could generate thousands of wavelengths at once. 

Bell Labs has already begun collaborations with the two third prize winners to test their approaches in our solutions with promising results.

In addition to the three winners, the other finalists included:

  • Jan Hesselbarth, Professor at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, who presented a new lens for mmWave communications with potentially thousands of beams
  • Burhan Gülbahar, Professor at Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey and Gorken Memisoglu, External Research Assistant at Thin Film and Device Preparation/Characterization Laboratories of Ege University, Izmir, Turkey, who presented who presented their work on creating nanorobots from graphene-based structures
  • Salvatore Domenic Morgera, Professor at the University of South Florida and Florida Atlantic University, who presented a proposal for understanding near field crosstalk between nerve fibers
  • Changho Suh, Professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Yuxin Chen, postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University who presented a novel approach to searching datasets that was potentially an order of magnitude more efficient than conventional search methods

As Bell Labs moves into 2016, the new year and beyond should prove to be one of its most exciting periods to date.  As the expected acquisition by Nokia speeds towards completion, the famed industrial research lab will be a driving force in the industry providing its creativity, brains, experience and imagination to innovate to create this brave new connected ‘AoE’ world. 



Bell Labs Prize 2015

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