Smart Bearing


Smart Bearing Challenge

Integrate wireless IOT monitoring technology into the next generation of bearing & track which can transmit information and alert users.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed



The Problem

 Bearings and guide track provide smooth motion guidance in industries ranging from robotics to medical devices. Users typically size and select these products based on assumed operating conditions and use general formulas to estimate useful service life. Unforseen operating conditions and improper maintenance and usage, however, can result in premature and sudden failure and downtime. Bearing and guide track failure can bring an entire production to a stop, incurring significant financial loss. Currently, there are no early notifications for performance degradation on systems using bearing technology. 

The Challenge Breakthrough

Our vision is the introduction of wireless Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) capabilities into next generation bearings and motion systems. A monitoring system with mobile, sensor-enabled bearings will allow users to quickly understand the operating conditons and eliminate downtime associated with unexpected equipment failure.

  • Provide a method to collect parameters and maintenance record during operation for analysis to optimize bearing life and enable predictive maintenance.
  • Creative ways of integrating self-powered wireless sensor and communication systems on small mobile bearings.
  • Creative ways of monitoring track life and usage.
  • Develop a simple method of informing users about the condition of the bearings based upon reported sensor data to provide early warning for un-wanted failures. 
  • Sensor data collection, transfer, and communication on moving components.

What You Can Do To Cause A Breakthrough

  • Click "Follow the Challenge" above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.
  • Click "Yes Sign Me Up!" above to register for the challenge. You will be notified of any status updates and be able to create an entry to the challenge when it opens.
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  • Leave a comment in our Comments Thread to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.

Additional rules

Who can participate:
The Challenge is open to all general public. To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the Challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

Selection of Winner:
Based on the judging criteria, 1 prize will be awarded for a total of $10,000.00 for the submission. In case of a tie, the winner will be selected at the discretion of the Judging Panel.

Registration and Submissions:
All paticipants must be registered by Jan. 31, 2017, 9:59 p.m. PST to be eligible for the prize. No registrations will be accepted after this date, and no changes to Teams may be made after this date.

All submission materials must be submitted online on or before Jan. 31, 2017, 9:59 p.m. PST. No submissions will be accepted after this time. All submissions must be received online, via the Challenge website, and all uploads must be in PDF format only. Submission reporting requirements are detailed in the Guidelines Section.

Challenge Guidelines are subject to change. Registered competitors will receive notification when changes are made, however, we highly encourage you to visit the Challenge Site often to review updates.


Propose a detailed solution to gather sensor data from guide wheels and transmit the information to a receiver for analysis and user notification.

  • Solution must not reduce the established product performance or useable life.
  • Solution is able to be incorporated into high volume guide wheel production methods to enable the desired capabilities to be added at a minimal increase in cost.
  • Enable the collection and analysis of operating data that provides insight into bearing condition and performance such as RPM, temperature, vibrations, distance of travel, and lubrication status.

Supporting information in the proposal documented must include:

  • Details about how this vision can be implemented
    • Clear explanations of how can this challenge can be solved
    • Descriptions of the appropriate technologies
    • Identify and explain the challenges, dangers, issues, assumptions and limitations
    • Visualizations and/or working physical prototype examples
    • Cost analysis of all components at a production volume of 100,000 units
  • Verifiable research data supporting the idea and approach
    • Identify and compare the proposed solution to existing solutions, and explain their comparative strengths and weaknesses


Submission Evaluation Criteria % of Weight
Originality and creativity solution to this challenge 20%
Demonstrate a working and manufacturable solution 20%
Minimal cost and function impact to the current product line 20%
Compatibility with multiple, common communication protocols 20%
Range, reliability, and speed of the wireless data communication system 10%
Easy to use, friendly solution 10%
Total 100%


Challenge Guidelines are subject to change. Registered competitors will receive notification when changes are made, however, we highly encourage you to visit the Challenge Site often to review updates.


Challenge Updates

Finalist Announcement!

March 8, 2017, 4 p.m. PST by Liz Treadwell

Greetings everyone,

The judging for the Smart Bearing Challenge is complete, and the finalists are as follows:

  • Lesept
  • Cliff Edwards
  • Chaitanya Areti
  • Sakai Takatoshi

Congratulations for making the finalist list! 


No submission met the full criteria outlined by the challenge, which meant that there was no winner.  The Smart Bearing team, however, feels that submissions that showcased creativity, quality research, and overall interest in the subject area should be rewarded regardless.

Smart Bearing is pleased to announce that all of the finalists shall receive a portion of the total winning amount. The actual award amount is based on the submission ranking of meeting the judging criteria. Thank you for your efforts and superb submissions!

Thank You Innovators!

Feb. 3, 2017, 4:19 p.m. PST by Liz Treadwell

Hi everyone,

We wanted to send a big thank you to everyone who submitted their ideas to the Smart Bearing Challenge! 

The team is currently evaluating the entries so stay tuned as the winner announcement date will occur on March 7th.


The Smart Bearing Challenge team

Last Call for your Smart Bearing Solutions!

Jan. 31, 2017, 4:06 p.m. PST by Liz Treadwell

Greetings innovators,

Just a friendly reminder that the deadline to submit your entry to the Smart Bearing challenge is tonight at 9:59pm PST.

If you have any questions, you can contact the Smart Bearing challenge team directly by clicking the "Send Message" button on their heroes page here.

Good luck!

Not Stoked About a Smart Toaster?

Oct. 4, 2016, 2:24 p.m. PDT by Maureen Murtha

The Internet of Things is more than sassy appliances.

While the promise of Jetson’s like homes, with automated lighting, smart appliances, and voice command responsivity have been “on the horizon” since, well… since the days of The Jetsons (that's 1963, kids.) The average home contains very few of these high-tech "nesting" devices.


The term “internet of things”, entered the zeitgeist 16 years ago. Each year since then has featured a flurry of products designed to connect our devices to the Internet, yet few of these products have become indispensable. The most noteworthy household IoT success doesn’t even measure data from home The Fitbit, for instance, measures and tracks the individual.

While the proliferation of smart appliances and networked homes has been cumbersome and disenchanting, the Internet of Things might be better understood as a revolution that will reshape industry long before it transforms the household.

In their report The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that IoT will create 11 trillion dollars of value by the year 2025.


The term Kaizen provides us with a useful antidote:
More than thirty years ago, Japanese auto-manufacturers, namely Toyota, had begun to surpass the quality and profitability of General Motors. In the early 1980s, John Shook got a job with Toyota so that he might learn what management and production techniques gave Toyota their competitive advantage. The most remarkable discovery was the culture of “
kaizen”. Unlike the contentious environment of American manufacturing plants where management and laborers were at odds with each other, the Toyota plant had created a cooperative environment that continuously solicited and awarded employee feedback. If a line worker noticed an inefficiency or had a suggestion for improvement, the plant celebrated the idea and often implemented the changes on the very same day.

The Lesson is Here

An average manufacturing facility employs thousands of people. Toyota built their success upon the data and feedback of thousands of workers who vigilantly sought out improvement opportunities. Now, imagine; in a plant where there are twice as many machines as there are workers imagine if all those machines could provide feedback, even more, imagine if those machines could act and evolved according to their own feedback and data.

This is the frontier for the Internet of Things. Smart bearings, intelligent hydraulics, and insightful lasers.

While the benefits of connected household devices are marginal, the value created by smart industrial equipment will save and generate trillions in value over the next decade.

Smart Toilets

These and countless other industrial uses of the IoT will generate a third of the estimated $11 trillion value of the Internet of Things by 2025, according to a study by Mckinsey. But the impact of the IoT will be felt well before then. A study by research firm Gartner concluded that 43% of organizations are already using the IoT or are planning to implement IoT strategies within the year. Gartner also forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by the end of 2016, with that number rising to 11.4 billion by 2018.

The fast-rising mountain of IoT data doesn’t exist in isolation. It all has to be stored and processed somewhere—on servers and storage devices in businesses, in the cloud, and, increasingly, in homes. That’s why all of those newly connected devices represent new vulnerabilities to data loss due to system failures, accidents, hackers, and viruses. And these vulnerabilities all boil down to one main risk factor: the possibility of crucial data becoming unavailable.

What happens when a wind farm is unable to adjust output in response to renewable energy prices going negative, something that can happen in a volatile energy market, like Californias? Or what about when, because of missing data, a plant manager’s smartphone can’t report that a motor on an industrial crane is about to burn out?

Fortunately, with robust backup solutions in place, nothing much—the interruption in the flow of data is minimal.

Backup Solutions

Strong backup solutions make data always available, no matter what, by protecting data on devices and servers and providing the means to seamlessly restore that data, if necessary. What’s more: such systems offer continuous accessibility and visibility by backing up critical data wherever it happens to reside—whether it’s in the cloud, on-premises, or in a hybrid of both.

Which is why backup is just as critical to the success of IoT-connected operations as the sensors, servers, and devices on the network. Backup keeps the river of data flowing, so that cranes can keep lifting; windmills keep spinning; workers stay safe, and yes, in ever-greater numbers, homes stay connected.


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