North Texas’ BellContinuous Selected as $10M XPrize Competition Semifinalist

The XPRIZE ANA Avatar competitions, themed "Anywhere is Possible," challenges semifinalists to create an avatar system that can transport human presence to a remote location in real time.

XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, announced that 38 teams from 16 countries are advancing to the semifinals round of the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE competition. Arlington’s BellContinuous is one of them.

This year’s XPRIZE competition challenges semifinalists to create an avatar system that can transport human presence to a remote location instantly. It’s about designing avatars for impact. XPRIZE wants to unleash the potential for avatars to take on different forms for use in numerous scenarios, such as healthcare, disaster relief, and rare trade skills. 

In February 2021, qualified teams completed their second round of technical for judges to evaluate. Each team submitted a comprehensive write-up detailing their avatar system’s capabilities, development plans, and a demonstration video showcasing the technology in action.

After extensive review, the judges selected 38 semifinalists, including BellContinuous, to advance out of the field of 77 qualified teams.

Meet BellContinuous

North Texas startup BellContinuous makes going on the road safer with its platform My Buddy, dubbed ‘The Good Backseat Driver.’ BellContinuous redefines the term ‘backseat driver’ by making its platform not only easy to use, but enjoyable. Available for download on both the Apple Watch and iPhone, the app uses Bluetooth connection to detect tail or brake lights of vehicles. It then alerts the driver. 

[Images: BellContinuous]

The startup aims to leverage its tech skills to bring home the grand prize. Once semifinals testing in Fall 2021 is completed, up to 20 teams will equally split a semifinals prize purse of $2 million and move on to final testing in Summer 2022. From there, each finalist will compete to win a share of the $8 million finals prize.

The grand prize will be awarded in June 2022 after final testing, which includes performance tests that highlights how avatar technologies are beneficial across several use case scenarios. In order to win, each team must integrate multiple technologies to develop a physical, non-autonomous avatar system that an operator can see, hear, and interact with. 

About XPRIZE

Sponsored by Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA), the Avatar XPRIZE is a four-year global competition that focuses on the development of an avatar system that will deploy a human’s senses, actions, and presence to a remote location in real time.

The avatars are then put to the test and must be able to execute tasks across a variety of real-world scenarios and convey a sense of presence for both the operator and the recipient in those interactions. The goal is for avatars to eventually be able to help provide critical care and deploy immediate responses leading to a more connected world.

XPRIZE North Texas connection

XPRIZE is spearheaded by technology visionary Anousheh Ansari. Apart from XPRIZE, the Iranian American engineer is co-founder and chairwoman of Richardson-based Prodea Systems.

She was also named the first female private space explorer 2017 after financing her own trip to the International Space Station. Her extensive experience has allowed her to not only shatter stereotypes, but make XPRIZE what is today. 

“We are rapidly approaching an era where it will be possible for a doctor in New York to export their skillset virtually to respond to a natural disaster across the globe,” Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE, said in a statement. “The task at hand for these incredible semifinalist teams competing in the ANA Avatar XPRIZE is to break through physical limitations and expand the capacity of humankind itself through transformative robotic avatar technology.” 

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