NAB Tech Innovation Initiative Reveals Challenge Winners


PILOTNAB‘s technology innovation initiative, has revealed the winners for the fourth annual PILOT Innovation Challenge.

Individuals, teams, companies, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations submitted concepts to address the challenge prompt, which is to “build an AI character that can have conversations with individual viewers, listeners or consumers.”

“We are pleased with the quality and innovation of this year’s submissions as well as the success of our new approach to the Innovation Challenge,” said PILOT Executive Director John Clark. “We look forward to working with the winners to develop their prototypes and ultimately provide broadcasters the ability to better serve their communities through AI.”

PILOT is allocating a total of $150,000 among the two winners. Winners will also receive relevant mentorship, ongoing feedback during development and a trip to the annual NAB Show to demonstrate their prototype.

This year’s winners are:

  • DeepTalk: A Conversational Agent for Broadcasters – Michigan State University: NextGen Media Innovation Lab, College of Communication Arts and Sciences; i-PRoBe Lab, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; WKAR Public Media.
    DeepTalk is a conversational agent, like Siri, that can be trained through deep learning to deliver news in the voice of a local broadcaster.
  • Jukebot – University of Minnesota: Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
    Jukebot is a chatbot API capable of answering simple questions and getting feedback from users for music stations.

PILOT’s Innovation Challenge finalists are:

  • AI-driven interactive news on mobile devices – Embody Digital.
  • Leveraging Conversational AI to Grow Audience, Deepen Engagement, and Shape Content Strategy – University of Georgia: Department of Statistics, Institute for Artificial Intelligence; Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication New Media Institute.
  • Kuralt.AI: 3D Broadcast Avatar – University of North Carolina: Reese News Lab, Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

The Innovation Challenge is one in a series of PILOT initiatives that each support a facet of the full innovation cycle, including the ideation, validation and incubation of media and technology-focused ideas. Additional programs include Futures ParkSPROCKIT and technology and internship grants.

New this year, the program will provide support to the winners to develop an AI prototype for PILOT to enhance broadcasters’ audience engagement.