Congratulations to ReTune and BetRight!

This could be you in 2019. Enter now!


After a full year of submissions (66 total) and a full year of projects with our four finalists (APT, BetRight, EngAGE for the Echo, and ReTune), we held our 2018 Showdown at Polsky’s New Venture Challenge, closing out UChicago’s Innovation Fest.  Our four finalists presented to our judges (Laura Paradis, Ci3; Matthew Walter, Toyota Technological Institute; Michael Wills, Division of the Humanities), who selected a first place winner and a runner-up.

First place winner: ReTune (Grand Prize)

Congratulations to Marc Berman and Kate Schertz for winning the $7000 grand prize! Their iOS app, ReTune, uses environmental data of Chicago to suggest an optimally “natural” and restorative route between two locations in Hyde Park. App Challenge developers integrated Dr. Berman’s environmental data of Chicago, Google Maps, and ArcGIS to suggest an optimally “natural” route between two locations.

Read all about ReTune.

BetRight (Runner-up)

Congratulations to John Lockhart for winning the $3000 runner-up prize! The iOS app seeks provides users with smart betting suggestions based on economic research into human bias and real-time tote board data. The iOS app can provide an instant recommendation of the most efficient and profitable bets to place on a particular horse race. App Challenge developers explored the limits of Optical Character Recognition to read numbers from a racetrack tote board and build a mobile minimum viable product.

Read all about BetRight.


EngAGE helps older adults adhere to a structured physical therapy program via the Amazon Echo. We worked with the team (Megan Huisingh-Scheetz, Louise Hawkley, Roscoe Nicholson, and Pete Wendel) to develop a simple proof-of-concept for a voice-enabled version of EngAGE for the Amazon Echo.

Read all about EngAGE.


APT aims to build on the underlying concepts of reflecting with a more experienced colleague on digital video and the power of “big data” and machine learning to support the pedagogical development of teachers. We collaborated with IBM staff member Frank Greco to apply IBM’s BlueMix Technology (including Watson) and other tools to a variety of teaching data sources.

Read all about APT.

You can do this too, four times a year.

Have you experienced an unmet need or opportunity in your everyday life (at work, in your research, at home or elsewhere)? Are you working on a research project that might benefit from an app, a website, or cognitive computing? Are you already working on an idea with UChicago (e.g. I-Corps, BIG, ITM) and want to build some part of it? Not sure?

The UChicago App Challenge helps you translate that idea or observation into a mobile app, great website, or something else (surprise us)! Students, faculty, staff, alums and Polsky members can submit their ideas year round. We’ve got 100 hours of programming time to build your idea.

Almost all of our semi-finalists and finalists have had no technical background.  That’s what we’re here for.  See what they ended up creating.