Microsoft announces ‘SPARKs Will Fly’ Windows Embedded developer competition with $15,000 prize

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Microsoft just announced a Windows Embedded developer competition here at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston. It’s called the “SPARKs Will Fly” contest and will award a $15,000 cash prize to one lucky/brilliant Windows Embedded developer.

It’s a push to get people to start (or keep) developing for Microsoft’s platform and it just may work, as the dev kit – called the SPARK kit — for hobbyists and academics totals about $200 and includes a bunch of free software and a VIA ARTiGO board.

Here’s a demo done by a casual developer, who showed off a touch-based system that streams music and photos. He built everything in under a week.

Sparks Will Fly Contest (sparkcontest.com)

Round One

Oct 27 — Jan 7

  • 50 semi-finalists will be chosen
  • Entrants must submit a 3-page paper on the home of the future
  • Winners will receive a free SPARK kit, with the VIA ARTiGO board
  • Winners will build a working prototype of their home automation system

Round Two

Jan 15 — Mar11

  • Top 3 finalists will be chosen and each will get a $1000 cash prize
  • Winners will get a trip to the Embedded Systems Conference in Silicon Valley to present their designs next March

Round Three

Mar 29 in Silicon Valley

  • Three winners will present their embedded systems prototypes
  • Winner gets $15,000

Here’s the full press release:

Microsoft Announces SPARKs Will Fly, Windows Embedded Developer Competition

Building on the successful Spark Your Imagination program, this contest will reward innovative hobbyists and academic developers plotting the future for smart, connected devices.

BOSTON — Oct. 28, 2008 — Today at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Boston, Microsoft Windows Embedded announced SPARKs Will Fly, a new contest based on the successful Microsoft Windows Embedded SPARK Your Imagination community-focused program launched in April 2008. SPARKs Will Fly, the largest Windows Embedded contest outside the Imagine Cup, is designed to foster creativity and innovation among the hobbyist and academic community. The contest will reward those with a passion for building devices on Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and will create a forum for enthusiasts to showcase their development skills.

The theme of the contest is “home of the future,” offering contestants a broad platform to demonstrate fresh thinking around smart, connected devices of the future.

“Windows Embedded is excited to bring SPARKs Will Fly, the premier contest for hobbyists, academics and general developer enthusiasts, to the developer community,” said Ilya Bukshteyn, senior director of Windows Embedded Marketing at Microsoft Corp. “Windows Embedded is committed to fostering creativity and innovation in the embedded technology market. This is a great chance for the embedded developer to have an impact on the innovation we will see in the future. We are eager to see the forward thinking that will shape the home of the future.”

How the Contest Works

SPARKs Will Fly is a three-round competition with more than $50,000 (U.S.) in prizes. The contest begins today and will wrap up in spring of 2009 at ESC Silicon Valley. In round one, contestants will submit a one- to three-page entry at http://www.sparkcontest.comdetailing their idea for the home of the future. The first round will close on Jan. 7, 2009. On Jan. 9, Windows Embedded will announce 50 contestants chosen to participate in round two. These contestants will be provided with a free-of-charge SPARK Your Imagination kit based on the VIA ARTiGO Pico-ITX board to build a working prototype of their idea. The 50 chosen contestants will also be required to submit a four- to eight-page paper describing their solution along with a three-minute video by March 11, 2009. On March 13, the top three finalists will be announced. These three finalists will present at ESC Silicon Valley, where the winner of the contest will be chosen.

Prizes

Each of the three finalists will receive an all-inclusive trip to attend ESC Silicon Valley and will be awarded $1,000 (U.S.). The winner will be awarded $15,000 (U.S.) and receive an all-inclusive trip to participate in the 2009 Microsoft TechEd Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

Additional Details

SPARKs Will Fly is open to people in all countries eligible to participate according to U.S. laws. The contest will start at noon PDT on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, and will end at 3 p.m. PST on March 9, 2009. More details and full official rules can be found at the SPARKs Will Fly Web site at http://www.sparkcontest.com.

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