Microsoft seeks bright Sparks

Will your Windows Embedded home of the future look like this?
Will your Windows Embedded home of the future look like this?

Will it be hover chairs and laser tea-cups or Bluetooth curtains and web-surfing alarm clocks?

If you think you know what the home of the future looks like, you could be walking away with $15,000 (£9,700) of Microsoft's cold, hard cash.

Today at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston, Microsoft Windows Embedded announced the Sparks Will Fly competition for amateur and academic developers.

The contest will reward those with "a passion for building devices on Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2" (that's almost everyone, surely?) and create a forum for enthusiasts to showcase their skills.

No place like a future home

According to Ilya Bukshteyn, Senior Director of Windows Embedded Marketing: "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."

Sparks Will Fly is a three-round competition with more than $50,000 (£32,400) in prizes. In round one, contestants will submit a short proposal at

Round two sees 50 short-listed contestants being provided with a free developer kit based on the VIA ARTiGO Pico-ITX board to build a working prototype of their idea. In round three, just three finalists will get $1,000 (£650) and be flown out to Silicon Valley, where a grand winner will be chosen.

Sparks Will Fly is a global competition open to everyone and the closing date for the first round is 7 January next year.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.