Michigan State-WKAR, Univ. of Minnesota Win PILOT Innovation Challenge

WASHINGTON—A conversational agent for broadcasters from Michigan State University and WKAR Public Media and a chatbot API for music stations from the University of Minnesota are this year’s winners of the PILOT Innovation Challenge, the NAB technology initiative announced.

“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.”

A new feature of the program this year is providing support to the winners to develop an AI prototype of their submission to enhance broadcast audience engagement, according to PILOT.

Participants were asked to submit concepts addressing the challenge of building an AI character that can have conversations with individual viewers, listeners or consumers.

A purse of $150,000 from PILOT will be divided among the winners. They also will receive mentorship, ongoing feedback during development and a trip to the 2020 NAB Show, April 18-22, in Las Vegas, where they will demo their prototypes.

This year’s winners are:

  • DeepTalk: A Conversational Agent for Broadcasters—Michigan State University (MSU), NextGen Media Innovation Lab, College of Communication Arts and Sciences; MSU’s iProBe Lab, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; and WKAR Public Media.
  • Jukebot, a chatbot API capable of answering simple questions and getting feedback from users for music stations—University of Minnesota, Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Innovation Challenge finalists included:

  • AI-driven interactive news on mobile devices—Embody Design;
  • 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.

More information is available on the PILOT website.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.