Nokia recently announced the top three winners of its fourth annual Bell Labs Prize, which recognizes disruptive technology innovations with the potential to solve the critical challenges humanity faces within the next 10 years.
This year’s competition attracted more than 330 proposals from 35 countries, which were narrowed down to around 20 semifinal applications shortlisted for collaboration with Bell Labs researchers over a two-month period. These refined semifinal proposals were then reviewed by the Bell Labs leadership team and the nine finalists selected, with each finalist having the chance to extend their collaboration with leading researchers at Bell Labs.
The nine finalist applications covered topics ranging from new approaches to machine learning, new materials synthesis, new human sensory technologies, new distributed computing paradigms, new battery technologies and new programmable radio and antenna technologies. The final judging event took place with a group of seven luminaries in the STEM field.
Joint second prize was awarded to ECS member Colm O’Dwyer, Professor of Chemistry at University College in Cork, Ireland, and Chair of the Electronics & Photonics Division of ECS, for his invention of a new class of 3D-printed batteries that could be incorporated into virtually any form factor, enabling new kinds of wearable devices with medical, health, communications and other future applications.
“Being one of the winners of this prize is not only an honor, but it is motivating to see how our ideas and research dovetails with an integral part of the vision of Bell Labs for human-centric technology,” said Colm O’Dwyer.
“This rethink of the design of a battery allows a 3D printable battery power inspired by its use and its user and offers complete design freedom of battery shape for wearables and a range of other applications where the battery power can be inbuilt at the design stage as part of the device, instead of needing a separate battery. New thinking for the battery was part of our goal to enable technologies that conform to natural human movement and how we process and interaction with the information around us. Our research is looking at how this can be done, starting with all-plastic 3D printed rechargeable batteries.”
Marcus Weldon, president of Nokia Bell Labs & Nokia CTO, added: “Each year the Bell Labs Prize produces a set of outstanding innovations that have the potential to solve critical problems confronting humanity. This year was no exception and produced one of the finest groups of finalists we have seen, with each of the nine having the potential to profoundly disrupt and enhance the technology or solution domain they were addressing. It was a difficult decision, but the judges were unanimous in their support for the three winners, based on the novelty of the work and the disruptive potential. We look forward to continuing to work with all of these rising stars to help make their vision a reality.”