Student Innovation Challenge – Virtual Reality

The student innovation challenge invites international students to use haptic technology to develop novel and exciting virtual reality system. This year, our research theme is “Implementing Haptics in Virtual Reality Environment”. We are looking for student challenge proposals in the research fields related to virtual reality, augmented reality, medical application, sport, art, and game with haptics.

Prospective participants will develop a system with a haptic device (EXOS, exiii Inc.), a head mount display VR system (VIVE Pro, HTC Corp.) and a game engine (Unity, Unity Technologies Corp.). Selected candidates will be kindly invited to present their developed system in World Haptics Conference 2019 and evaluated by the reviewer committee and conference participants.

Candidates first need to submit a proposal for their challenge with the provided devices. The proposal is reviewed by the review committee. The selected teams will receive the device and develop the system, receiving advices from the review committee. The teams will demonstrate the system and compete for awards in World Haptics Conference 2019. As a first attempt, articles will be submitted to IEEE ToH in some article type in cooperation with the teams and the reviewer committee.

The Challenge

Selected teams will develop a haptic system for virtual/augmented/mixed reality environment with provided devices. For example, we will welcome a novel and exciting proposal related to the applications of virtual, augmented and mixed reality in medical, clinical, (e-)sport, art, design, and serious/entertaining game applications.

Each team are supposed to develop a system with the provided devices, however, the teams may be able to add any devices to the entire system if necessary.


January 25, 2019
Deadline for Student Innovation Challenge (SIC) Proposal Submission
February 8, 2019
Acceptance Notification
Late February, 2019
Development kits for SIC will be sent to selected teams
End of April, 2019
Mid-term Progress reports (web conference)
July 9-12, 2019
Competition at World Haptics Conference 2019 in Tokyo, Japan

How to Participate

To participate in the Student Innovation Challenge, a team must submit a two-page proposal via web form by January 25, 2019. This submission system requires you to log in your Google account. If you do not have it, please directly send your proposal to whc19-sic-vr[at] One team should consist of two to four students. The team can enlist a professor, teacher, and researcher as an advisor. However, the system must be developed by the students.

Up to five proposals will be accepted for the SIC. The proposals will be evaluated by the review committee, with respect to the following points.

  1. Originality: Does the proposed system have an originality, compared with the previous systems?
  2. Quality: Is the quality of the demonstration good enough for general public?
  3. Suitability: Is the proposal within the scope of student innovation challenge?
  4. Plausibility: Can the team complete the challenge during SIC period (about four months)?

team is asked to develop the proposed system after they will receive the hardware. The review committee are happy to give advices to the teams upon request. In April, we will have a progress report meeting and all teams need to attend this teleconference. In the meeting, each team is asked to give a short presentation on the progress and discuss the tasks that should be finished before World Haptics Conference 2019 with the members of the review committee. In World Haptics Conference 2019, SIC attendees are asked to show their demo in student innovation challenge session and review committee will evaluate the outcome in terms of following aspects:

  1. Meet the objective: Does the developed system achieve the objective of submitted proposal?
  2. Fascination: Is the demonstration sounds interesting and intriguing enough for future implementations?
  3. Feedback: Would WHC participants and review committee consider that the demonstration is fun enough?

The most popular team is going to be given the first prize by World Haptics conference.

At least one member of each team must attend the student innovation challenge session. Also, the attending members must pay registration fee. We recommend the attending members to get supports from the advisers or be members of student volunteer. In this year, we plan to exempt registration fee of at least one member for each attending team.

After World Haptics Conference 2019, we would like recommend attendees of SIC to write and submit research papers (if possible) or a case study research paper of EXOS and SIC session with the developed system to IEEE Transactions on Haptics. The type of the article will be determined during the SIC period. Also, we are happy to provide advice for writing and polishing the article. We encourage team members to upload the developed source code to Github so that it can be shared worldwide. There is also a possibility that the sponsors use the source codes for demonstrations with credit of names of team members, after permission from the team.

What are the benefits for attendees?
Can get in touch with cutting edge haptic / VR technology (exiii, VIVE Pro, Unity)
Can obtain comments from haptics professionals (that’s we are!)
Can use cutting-edge hardware developed by exiii and HTC
Can increase an academic publication: challenge outcome could be submitted to a journal
Can contribute to open-source haptics: we encourage attendees to upload all the source code in Github

Hardware and software

Basically, the prospective participants will develop the system with the following devices. If participants will not use some of the following devices or the participants will add other devices, please contact the review committee before the submission.

EXOS Wrist DK2: EXOS Wrist DK2 can provide touch sensations in virtual reality environment by presenting front/rear and left/right forces to users’ wrist. The device works with the VIVE controller. In addition to touch sensations, EXOS can also provide force sensations such as feedbacks of shooting a gun or lifting an object. Software development kit for Unity is bundled, and users can easily develop applications with the device.

VIVE Pro: The device consists of a high resolution head mount display and controllers for virtual reality environment. The device enables user to walk around and touch or move objects in virtual reality environment naturally. The device can provide an immersive experience in virtual reality environment naturally to users.

Unity: Unity was originally created as a game development software. It combines ease of use with powerful expressive capabilities to enable multi-platform support across PC, mobile, home consoles, and AR/VR devices. Unity’s active and growing user base includes everyone from programmers to artists, designers, sound engineers, non-gaming engineers and students. The engine is also seeing applications not just in gaming, but in architecture, manufacturing, medicine, art and many other fields.

Comments from sponsors

Mr. Yamaura (exiii)
I am very pleased to cooperate with World Haptics conference that leads the research field of haptics. Our company provides EXOS, a wearable haptic device for Student Innovation Challenge session. I am looking forward to trying excellent applications developed by selected teams.

VIVE Japan team
VIVE Pro features high resolution and room scale VR HMD. We are looking forward to ideas concepts from students to cultivate new dimension of VIVE Pro.

Review committee

Hiroki Ishizuka (Kagawa university), Hikaru Nagano (Kobe university), Masashi Nakatani (Keio university), Oliver Schneider (University of Waterloo), Hiroshi Yamaura (exiii), Craig Shultz (Tanvas, Inc.)


Q: Can we have advices or help from professional researchers for the SIC?
A: Yes. Professional advisors may give some feedback and technical advice such as fundamental knowledge of haptics and/or how to write codes. However, the system should be developed by student members of each team.

Q: Can we keep the provided hardware after the Student Innovation Challenge?
A: No. The provided devices are leased. The team should return the devices to the review committee after student innovation session.

Q: Can we refer or consult with existing research?
A: Yes. Of course you can refer to previous research. You should write the novelty of your proposing system in order to differentiate from previous study in the proposal. If you would not clarify the novelty, the proposal might get lower score in the reviewing process (even though every single proposal has fascinating points!).

Q: Should all of the team members attend the student innovation challenge session?
A: No. At least one member must attend the student innovation challenge session. The WHC committee basically does not support travel expenses and registration fee, although the WHC committee are now planning to offer exemption of registration fee for at least one team member. Please carefully consider how many students will attend the student innovation challenge session during the conference period.


For more information, please contact whc19-sic-vr[at]