I think contests are really cool, so I tend to blog about them here even when they’re not overtly SQL Server related.

Site Image A little background..  back in March of this year, the Windows Embedded Group launched SPARK Your Imagination, the first hobbyist-focused program for this exciting technology.  Before this program, the software cost $1000 per set and you had to go through a distributor to get it – not a hobbyist-friendly scenario.  Now, you buy a SPARK-selected board from one of five hardware partners, and you get a full version of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and a full version of Visual Studio Pro 2005 along with it.  The only requirement is that any work you produce be strictly non-commercial (although, if you think you’ve got a product on your hands, there are paths available to get you there).

On the heels of the SPARK program comes the SPARKs Will Fly contest, similar to The Imagine Cup in that it’s round-based and has a theme.  The theme for SPARKs Will Fly is “Build the Home of the Future.”

Round One is running through January 7.  Fifty people will be advanced to Round Two; each will be given $500 worth of kit on which to develop their idea.  Three finalists will be selected from this group; they’ll compete on-stage at ESC Silicon Valley 2009 for a $15,000 grand prize.  We’ll of course keep track of the competition here.

You’ve still got time to get your SPARKs flying.  If this technology is your cup of tea, it’s a great way to get your feet wet in it.

Good luck!

-wp