How do I follow the Challenge and get updates?

When you register for the challenge, you’ll automatically be signed up to receive updates regarding the challenge. Follow us on Twitter at @ChallengePost and @usnistgov.


Who can I contact if I have questions about the challenge?

Email or post a question to the discussion board.


What do I need to use to build my app?

At least one of the Eligible NIST Datasets must be used.Make sure to review the Minimum App Criteria and the Rules. Additional criteria are described in the Rules. Specifically, the notice “This product uses data provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) but is not endorsed or certified by NIST” should be displayed prominently, and the App must seek user permission to access and use personal information. The use of NIST or Department of Commerce logo is prohibited.


Where can I find an overview of the challenge?

On September 2nd a webinar took place to review the purpose of the challenge, the rules, and the requirements for submission. The webinar also reviewed the eligible NIST datasets that must be used. You can view the slides or watch the recording.


What APIs or datasets can I include in my app?

In addition to the required data (at least one of the Eligible NIST Datasets), you may use whatever APIs and datasets you choose, as long as you are authorized to use and distribute them. As the rules state, “while not required, other freely available scientific data (from NIST or other third party providers) may enhance the usefulness of the App for other users.”


What kind of apps are allowed? Is a browser-based application OK?  

For this challenge, the rules define an App as “a working software application that operates on a mobile device using one of three operating systems, i.e., iOS, Android, or Windows together with relevant documentation and code to install and run the application.” Browser-based (web) applications are not eligible for this challenge. To be eligible to win a prize, you should develop an application that runs on one of three operating systems (iOS, Android, or Windows) and works on a mobile device. You must provide NIST with access to test your application  (see FAQ below and the Rules for more details).


Why do I have to upload a video?

The video will be helpful to the panel of judges. You may create a screencast or use a handheld video camera to make your video, or choose any other method that captures the app’s value and user interface.


What should I put in my video?

Aside from your actual app, your submission video is one of the most important parts of your entry. In fact, it’s often one of the first things that judges view. Make a great first impression by following these tips on what to include in your video:

  • Include a step-by-step demo. Demonstrate your app’s key features by showing them functioning on an appropriate device. While audio isn’t required, narration or text bubbles can help judges and voters understand your app.
  • Keep it simple. Per the Rules, your video should be less than five minutes. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to upload your video. Keep in mind that the time it takes to upload/process a video on YouTube or Vimeo varies greatly depending on the format of your original video, the file size, upload traffic and Internet connection speed, and could take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours or more.

Don’t know much about making videos? Check out these helpful screencasting tools.


Does my app need to be publicly available or submitted to an online store?

Apps may be submitted to the appropriate app store, but you are not required to have the app available there. However, you must provide access to your app for testing and judging. You can provide a URL where we can access or download the app, upload an installation file, or share a test build via TestFlight (for iOS apps).


How can I provide NIST with access to test my application?

You must provide a way for us to test your application at no cost. Please allow us to test using one of the following methods:

Android Applications: Upload an .apk file in the submission form or provide a link for us to download your app.

iOS Applications: If your app is available on the app store please provide a link in the “Website URL” field on the submission form. If you charge for your app, please also provide a promo code.

If your app is not yet publicly available, send a test build using one of the following methods:

Beta by Crashalytics

Send us a beta test via Crashalytics. Use our testing email ( and to provision a build and send us a link via the “Share Links” button. Make sure to also add the testing link to your submission form under “iOS Build Link”.  Beta by Crashalytics is free! Here’s a quick how-to for their Beta Distribution tool.

TestFlight / iTunes Connect

Enter our email address to share a build with us for testing. Our TestFlight account email Please note that if you add us as an “External Tester” your app will need to go through Beta App Review before you can send the build. Builds must be received by the submission deadline to be eligible - so plan for extra time. Not sure how to use TestFlight via iTunes Connect? Check out the iTunes Connect Developer Guide and the TestFlight Video Tutorial.


Send a testing link, and add the testing link to your submission form under “iOS Build Link”. Please note that HockeyApp allows you to send test builds quickly, but there is a fee to use this service.

Windows Phone applications: Upload an .xap file in the submission form or provide a link for us to download your app.