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Information and Communication Technologies



Information technology, in its many forms, is increasingly impacting almost every aspect of our lives, from communicating with friends and family to the manufacturing of the products that we use, the efficient supply of food and essential services, and the performance of financial markets and our nation’s economy.
The past decade has seen explosive growth in the generation and distribution of data and the creation of usable information from that data. The acceleration continues, requiring new ways to intelligently manage and use this information.
This topic encourages the submission of proposals that present ground-breaking innovations in the generation, analysis, use or distribution of data or information, where such innovations offer the potential for substantial commercial returns and would have a positive impact on society and the world in which we live. The sub-topics below outline some of the major areas of current activity but, given the breadth of the topic, are inevitably going to be incomplete. Proposals are encouraged under any of the specific sub-topics IC1 to IC10. Proposals that do not fit these sub-topics can be submitted under the sub-topic “IC11: Other”.


IC1: Big Data; Advanced Data Analytics
This sub-topic focuses on innovations in the rapidly expanding fields of big data and advanced data analytics. These fields cover a wide range of technical sub-specialties and applications, and the examples provided below are far from exhaustive.
Examples of relevant technical fields include (but are not limited to): predictive analytics, simulation, optimization, data visualization, network visualization, visual data analytics and optimization (image and video), data fusion and integration. Applications are many and varied - examples include (but are not limited to): predicting buying patterns and trends, insurance claims, mortality rates, tax fraud, traffic patterns and delays, equipment failure, election outcomes, criminal/terrorist activities, and the spread of disease; improving healthcare outcomes; the optimization of equipment performance and maintenance scheduling; the optimization of manufacturing processes; predicting and optimizing traffic flow (internet traffic, road traffic, etc.); internet search; business informatics; logistics management; supply chain management; the visualization of utility networks; climate modelling; geographic information systems (GIS); crowdsourcing; and detecting and preventing cyber-attacks.


IC2: Cloud Computing; High-Performance Computing; Cloud-based IT Services
This sub-topic focuses on innovations in computing capabilities that are aimed at enabling or enhancing the analysis of complex science, engineering, medical, business, or social issues. Of particular interest are technologies relating to internet-based networked computing resources.
Examples of relevant technical fields include (but are not limited to): infrastructure as a service; platform as a service; software as a service; virtualization; cloud-based storage; distributed computing; compute cluster architectures; in-memory processing; device-cloud architecture; data integrity and availability; and data security and confidentiality in distributed computing networks. Applications include (but are not limited to): stock market analysis and prediction; cryptanalysis; weather forecasting; fluid dynamic modelling, acoustic modelling and other computationally intensive engineering modelling; advanced speech processing; and video analysis and processing.

IC3: Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP)
This sub-topic focuses on innovations in the field of machine learning and highlights, in particular, natural language processing (NLP). Machine learning refers to processes in which an automated system can learn from data, rather than following a pre-specified set of rules, and in many cases can predict outcomes relating to the learned process. NLP uses machine learning to extract information or derive meaning from human language (written or spoken) or to generate human language.
Examples of relevant technical fields within machine learning include (but are not limited to): supervised machine learning; semi-supervised machine learning; unsupervised machine learning; neural networks; artificial intelligence (of which machine learning is a sub-category); machine learning algorithms - e.g., decision tree learning; robot learning; pattern recognition; image recognition. Examples of technical fields within NLP include (but are not limited to): parsing; named entity recognition; data extraction from text; natural language understanding; natural language generation; automatic summarization; machine translation; analysis of structured or unstructured text; speech recognition; speech analysis; and speech processing. Applications across both technical fields include (but are not limited to): improvements in human-computer interaction - e.g., computers anticipating users’ needs; automated manufacturing; machine vision; robotic control systems; cyber-physical control systems; sentiment analysis; the analysis of online commentary; automated medical diagnosis; stock market analysis; and translation services (including speech-to-speech translation).


IC4: Networking Technology
This sub-topic focuses on innovations that will enhance the performance, functionality, and monitoring of information networks, with particular emphasis on the internet.
Examples of relevant technical fields include (but are not limited to): software defined infrastructure - including software defined networking and software defined storage; software defined data centers; analytics to optimize network performance; network visualization; network protocols; technologies to reduce network congestion and improve network resiliency; network infrastructure to support connectivity, data processing and data fusion for the internet of things; machine-to-machine networks; network-based data storage and retrieval technologies; data distribution - e.g., video distribution; anywhere/anytime access to data and services; server technologies; and thermal management and energy conservation for servers and server farms.


IC5: Mobile Computing
This sub-topic focuses on innovations that will improve the performance or functionality of mobile devices. While there is some overlap with other sub-topics, proposals submitted to this sub-topic should be focused on innovations specifically intended for mobile platforms.
Examples of relevant technical fields include (but are not limited to): location technology; image recognition and processing; video processing; speech recognition and generation; translation services; gesture and expression recognition and processing; biosignal processing; crowdsourced storage; crowdsourced processing; peer-to-peer mobile device networking; user/device collaboration (e.g., device anticipating and addressing a user’s needs); mobile device-cloud architecture; data analytics and apps to facilitate the internet of things; mobile commerce; and vehicle-based computing platform.


IC6: Image/Video Processing
This sub-topic focuses on technologies that enhance the storage, transmission, processing, or use of image and video data.
Examples of relevant technical fields include (but are not limited to): image recognition and tagging; facial recognition; automated video categorization; video summarization; 3D image capture and processing; video compression; video analysis; video enhancement; storage and transmission of video data; and video curation.


IC7: Social Media /Collaborative Networking
This sub-topic focuses on innovations that will add value to social, business, technical, or cultural interactions over the internet.
Examples of relevant technical fields and applications include (but are not limited to): collaborative healthcare; the sharing economy; professional networks; B2B networking; image and video centric networks; micro video; social media advertising and marketing; social networking tools; visual content optimization (image and video) for social media; social media use in education; and video sharing.


IC8: Security and Privacy
This sub-topic focuses on innovations that protect networks and devices against cyber-attack or protect data and user information against compromise.
Examples of relevant technical fields include (but are not limited to): cyber security (which covers many technical sub-fields); big data security; data/network analytics to detect cyber vulnerabilities and cyber-attacks; behavior analytics to assess people risk; mobile device security; device-cloud security infrastructure; cloud computing security; security/privacy policy compliance; security for BYOD (bring-your-own device) and BYOC (bring-your-own-cloud); security protocols for the internet-of-things; data loss prevention; information assurance; data integrity; encryption; key generation, key management and key distribution; quantum communications; random number generation and distribution; access authorization; identity management; and personal authentication (biometrics, multi-factor authentication).


IC9: Human-Computer Interaction
This sub-topic focuses on innovations that enable humans to interact more effectively and efficiently with information systems.
Examples of relevant technical fields include (but are not limited to): human-computer interfaces; human-machine interfaces; machine learning to anticipate and meet a user’s needs; wearable devices - smart watches, smart glasses, health trackers; augmented reality; virtual reality; speech recognition; voice control; gesture recognition (e.g. hand or eye tracking); behavior recognition; behavioral analytics; emotion detection; mood recognition; virtual assistants; visualization and display technology; tactile displays; haptics; multi-touch; biometric sensing; bioacoustic sensing; biosignal detection and processing; and the brain-computer interface.


IC10: Communications Components and Infrastructure
This sub-topic focuses on innovations that will substantially improve the underlying technical performance, or extend the functionality, of communication systems.
Examples of relevant technical fields include (but are not limited to): short range and long distance transmission technologies - optical, RF, microwave or ultrasonic; communication signal sources and detectors - optical (lasers, LEDs, photodetectors), RF, microwave or ultrasonic; optical fiber technology; and electronic or optoelectronic signal processing technologies to facilitate data transmission or reception.


IC11: Other
This general sub-topic is intended to capture any innovations in information technology that are not covered in the preceding sub-topics and that have the potential to generate substantial commercial returns and lead to a positive societal impact.



Agency Contact(s)


General inquiries regarding this topic should be made to: Peter Atherton, (703) 292-8772,





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