Time is ticking on, the various universities working on their projects for the Windows Embedded ChallengE have about two weeks to go before the competition at the Microsoft Redmond Campus - this should be a very interesting competition, I've copied some of the project descriptions below...

I should be mostly awake for the contest, although I would have flown in from the India Windows Embedded Summit late the day before the competition starts.

Most of the teams involved in the ChallengE are using the ICOP Vortex86 Reference board, this is an x86 reference board supporting 128MB Ram, Flash IDE drive, serial, parallel, Ethernet, and 3xUSB ports (one of which can be used to boot the o/s image) - here's a link to the eBox web site... http://www.icoptech.com/products_detail.asp?ProductID=170 - some teams are also using PocketPC Devices - check out the descriptions - there are some really interesting ideas below....

We are a team of four Electrical Engineering students at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Living in California increased our awareness of the dangers of tired drivers on the road due to the long period of times people spend here in their cars. Many accidents happen because of drivers who lose track of their surrounding and doze off while driving. We know that such dozes are very short and they are more likely to be “extended blinks” than conventional sleep. When is person is tired, he/she tend to take a long time to open their eyes after blinking. This will cause what we are calling Microsleeps; extended blinks. We are trying to build a system that would detect drivers’ fatigue by detecting microsleeps. The system is rather simple. A camera will take a picture of the driver’s face and then transmit it to a processor, possibly through wireless connection, to be analyzed. We are hoping to accommodate around 30 Frames/sec. This will allow our system to actually count the number of frames during which the eyes are shut and then signal the alert after a preset number of frames is reached. For the system, we are using Windows CE .NET. It is a new thing for us, but we decided to adopt it and learn how to build platforms and how to program all the code needed for our eye tracking, possibly using C#, which is also a new programming language for us. We decided to use CE because of its many advantages as a real time operating system, a thing that is needed for a system that is supposed to be running nonstop in a car. We also needed to take into consideration that our system is going to be placed in a car. Power consumption, thus, is a very major issue in our design. We need to make the system an independent unit that would utilize the fact that is can use the resources of the car when available, and save them when needed. 

The purpose of our project is to increase safety precaution compliance in the industrial environment by ensuring the use of a safety helmet. The principle of our operation is to create a system that detects whether or not an employee is wearing the required safety helmet when monitored in a specified area, and while operating machinery. To implement our system, we will build our own platform using Windows CE, as well as use C sharp and Visual Basic as programming languages. Hardware elements of our system comprise of transmitters, receivers, transceivers, as well as pressure and heat sensors to place inside the safety helmet.  We hope to show that not only can our system ensure safety in the industrial environment but also be simple and cost effective.


the idea behind this project is a poeple counter/locator to keep track of how many poeple are present in a building. this can help the fire marshals or rescue teams in case of a disatser (such as earthquake, fire); it can also be used for security purposes such as burgular prevention . we have explored many options for our Sensing technology; our first decision was to use Infrared Array Imaging Technology and Digital Subtraction to locate Human presence. Due to cost requirements of this contest we had decided to explore othe possibilities such as digital web cameras and Image processing techniques; this seem to be the direction we are heading to.

The need for preventive devices increases in all the aspects of life, especially for the vulnerable road workers. The number of road accidents involving road workers increases drastically every year. SAVIOR is an alerting system, which helps individuals who work in traffic to be more aware of their surroundings and take action incase of a dangerous situation. It will also decrease lawsuits involving road workers, construction companies, and insurance companies. In this project, Doppler law would be implemented in an embedded microcontroller, and the use of a transducer and Windows CE operating system will make the application possible. In hardware part of the project, the focus is on implementation of 8 bit microcontroller in Xilinx FPGA. From software point of view, Window CE will be used to display the information received from microcontroller.


A hand held device that will provide assistance in taking medications on the prescribed schedule.  Patients with serious health problems often have many medications to take , each on a different schedule.  Patients who are not in a health care facility often have difficulty remembering when to take each medication, what the dosage is, etc..  Doses are frequently missed or taken multiple times.  This device would be carried by the patient.  It would remind the patient when a medication was due, specify the dosage, require confirmation that the correct dosage was taken, provide the recommended action if a dose has been missed, keep track of all medications that have been taken, etc.  It would have an intuitive GUI for the user for the above functionality, as well as a suitable interface for accessing the database to determine the history of medications taken, change the schedule, etc.

PEDs is a personal electronic direction system that provides users the shortest and safest route to their desired destination. The PEDs system can be easily downloaded onto any compatible Pocket PC. Its interactive user interface allows clients to key in their desired destination and receives the shortest route to their destination illustrated on a graphical map. PEDs client-server interactions are established using wireless connectivity. In addition, PEDs keep users updated with real-time road conditions and emergency broadcasts. PEDs aims at improving the safety of everyday users by providing them an essential tool that can keep them updated with emergencies and get then to their destination.

RealSAFE will provide a comprehensive checklist of safety related information that needs to be known before making decisions to purchase a home or property. The system will analyze a variety of house facilities and environmental conditions as its input data and produce an assessment report regarding the safety conditions of the property. The report can help a potential buyer to determine whether the property is safe or not. The user will also be able to retrieve the ratings of the property submitted from previous property inspections via Internet as a cross-reference. RealSAFE will use the official guidelines provided by the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA).

Our system provides customizable safety assurance for a variety of different environments.  It is an ambient computing system that uses a wireless sensor network.  Sensors monitor potentially hazardous areas (such as a gas stove or door lock) and relay their status to a base station.  The base station, located within the environment, then communicates this information to the user interface running on a computer.  The sensor system is dynamic, allowing new sensors to be added and existing sensors to be relocated or removed.  Finally, the system provides real time status updates to the user, who can customize, through the computer, which sensors to be monitored


Our team from Santa Clara University, advised by Dr. Daniel Lewis, will be implementing a mobile, digital fingerprint sensor. The purpose of the system will be to allow some authorized person (ie. police officer, child care attendant), to check the identity of a person remotely in the field. Once the person's fingerprint is taken on-site, the system will connect to an outside database such as (an employee database, student database, or law enforcement database) that holds the fingerpirnts and various records and other previously recorded information. The purpose being, that if a police officer or someone else needs information about a person (previous convictions, name, address, M/F, height weight, etc.) then it will be available to them immediately on-site. Or another application would be at a daycare where the attendant could check the identity of the parent by using their fingerprint before the child is released, to prevent kidnappings.

Gabriel – Robust Decentralized Warning System for Emergency Personnel and Citizens - Peter T Fattore, Patrick J Connery, David M Look, Nicholas J Wlaznik As the world quickly changes around us, people are looking towards new means of communication. Personal, work, and day to day life situations are now requiring information to be transferred easily and effectively. That includes announcements and warnings regarding public security.  Our team took these ideas to mind when we decided to create our program Code-Named “Gabriel”. Using modern technology of WindowsCE that powers networked handheld devices "Gabriel" will be able to assist people in transmitting data on daily basis.  In case of time of an emergency or security threat it will transform to a reliable and robust message-relying application that can be used by emergency services. The “Gabriel” will use service advertisement approach to find other near by users on the local sub-network, and will support features of ordinary instant-messenger applications.  However, it will not require a central server, or even centralized network.  (Ad-hoc networks can be utilized.)  It will perform peer to peer message forwarding in order to broadcast alerts.  Each alert will have its own “id” number and expiration time. Each “Gabriel” will periodically advertise the list of its unexpired alerts to all other messengers on the same sub-network.  Other messengers can request re-broadcasting any of those alerts.  In that way, the traffic will be reduced by not resending full contents of all alerts each time, and the alerts will spread using “spread the word” algorithm.  This will work even in case if the infrastructure is heavily damaged or not present in the area where the emergency occurred as the owners of the messengers will be relocating.  Message origin authentication will be used to prevent third parties from generating fake alerts by unauthorized users. The demonstration of the project will utilize several WindowsCE powered machines.  The main prototype will be implemented using e-box that will run customized version of the OS and will be supplied with an 802.11 network interface.  Additional pocket PC devices will be used to demonstrate the peer to peer mobile capabilities of the system.


"CarTalk" CarTalk allows vehicles drivers with PDA devices (based on Microsoft's(R) Windows(R) CE .NET OS) to send and receive urgent messages while traveling along the roadway. The PDA device receives urgent messages from relay towers along the roadway. The received messages can be used to alert drivers of traffic conditions, server or dangerous weather conditions or approaching medical vehicles. Motorist will also be able to report new observed weather, traffic or safety incidents, which will be broadcasted immediately via the relay towers to other motorist within range of the reported incident. The hardware includes a PDA compatibly device, wireless NIC, relay station (computer with wireless NIC).

Our plan is to create a bus tracking system, using RFID tags on the busses and receivers on the bus stops.  These will all be networked into a central server that will be calculate where a bus will be were based on the information from the bus stops.  Then relay this information to the bus stops and possible other devices too (depending on time restraints).  The bus stations terminals will run off of embedded Windows CE and the server will be written using C#.  The idea is that with this system we can display the public a much more accurate picture of the bus system, then a static schedule, because it is measured in real time.  As a bus is late or early, the schedule will be automatically updated.  With a more reliable and accessible picture of the bus schedule, this will make it easier for people to use public transportation and reduce traffic in a major city, which will be fulfilling the goal of making the world a safer place.

Quickly and correctly associating medical records with hospital patients and making those records available to medical professionals is literally a matter of life and death.  By embedding radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in hospital ID bracelets, patients can be identified easily and accurately.  By integrating an RFID tag reader into a Tablet PC or other portable device equipped with wireless networking, a doctor or nurse can quickly access to up-to-date patient records stored in a centralized database.  With such a system, hospital staff and professionals will have an invaluable tool to help monitor, diagnose, and treat patients.

Our team will design and implement what we call a “Home Safety System”. This system will employ non-intrusive current sensors for a home’s electrical wiring. These sensors will be able to communicate through a LAN, via an Altera NIOS board. The LAN will be monitored by Microsoft’s EBox. The EBox will act as a web server and have the ability to enable/disable circuits in the home, both automatically and manually. A user will utilize a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and any available internet connection to manually control the system, based on readings displayed by the EBox web server. The end result is a system that completely monitors the activity of all electrical/electronic devices in a home and is aware of what should be considered “normal” usage. Any abnormal readings will cause the system to call a telephone number specified by the user, notify a paging device, or send an email, notifying him/her that the system needs attention.

Our project is aimed at designing a system that is capable of determining the direction of sound. This system will comprise of a network of acoustic sensors (mikes), a camera, and a central computer. With this setup we will be able to approximate the origin of sound, such as that of a gunshot or an automobile accident, using sound localization techniques. Once the direction of the sound is known the camera will be made to focus in the direction of the incident. A reliable wireless technology might be used to facilitate the communication between the sensors and the central computer. This system can be used to alert security personnel of a supposedly dangerous situation.

The project, known as the Smart Home, is an attempt to use smart technologies to ease the burden of everyday home life as well as provide security measures to help protect the family. The foremost goal of Smart Home is to implement a home security system that monitors your home or business while you’re away.  The second goal of Smart Home is to improve family communications by implementing a global calendar, which integrates the capabilities of smart devices such as Pocket PC’s and mobile phones enabling family members to stay better connected and organized.  Another goal is to integrate with the family’s Internet connection and television to act as a proxy to restrict the access of programs, websites or other content which parents may find to be too graphic for children. The entire system will utilize smart devices to communicate with the users.  For example, if the security system finds a flaw it will send messages via email, mobile phone messages such as SMS or MMS.  The system can be monitored and administered via web services from PCs or other smart devices as well.

The goal of this project is “Making the World a Safer Place.”  In order to do so we plan to create and implement hardware & software that will take information from its target environment and process it in order to find a center point from two preset objects in the environment.  The idea is that such a system could be used to align a vehicle in a lane.  Or guide an aircraft onto a landing strip without direct human control.  Such a system could further automate cruise control.

Our group has decided to make a PDA application to monitor a person's health. This application will deliver the data to a web service which will keep a larger database and create graphs which can be viewed via the world wide web. The PDA can also evaluate the statistics stored by the server and change the minimum and maximum allowable values for the signals. This allows the PDA to adapt to each individual user. If the signal has several highs or lows, the PDA can contact a health professional so that he or she may personally evaluate the data to determine the course of action.

This project will implement a GPS-driven XYZ coordinate system to determine user location within a large facility where knowledge of location could be used to tailor information presented to a mobile device client. This system is intended for use in hospitals, but can be extended to other environments, such as government agencies or commercial establishments. A central wireless server will send applicable secure information to hospital personnel—locations of doctors, nurses, and patients, as well as patient records—while sending other useful information for navigation to patients and visitors. Mobile devices with GPS modules will send coordinates to the server, which in turn will transmit data relevant to the device’s location. Medical professionals can instantly receive a patient’s records just by entering the patient’s room and can be paged by specialty and proximity to a particular medical emergency. Visitors can be guided electronically to various areas of the hospital.

We are working on a device to aid the elderly.  The idea is to incorporate a number of sensors that can monitor the conditions of the house of an elderly person, to ease the concerns of family who do not have the time to check in on a daily basis, or the resources to afford a nurse to check in.  Several elderly people die every year during cold spikes due to heater malfunctions.  Our device will send off emails, text messages, and even possibly even make pre-recorded phone calls when the temperature sensor is triggered.  We are also considering other types of sensors to incorporate, including carbon monoxide, smoke, and a bed pressure sensor that will indicate whether or not the person has gotten up by a certain time that morning.  We are also looking at implementing a life-alert type button that when triggered will send off the same system of messages and phone calls.

My team is working on a project where we get to implement a security software for security guards. So that in time of an emergency, if the security guard has to leave the office, he will have a direct connection to the camera feed + alarm sensors which he will be able to get directly on the pocket pc in his hand. The only thing that is holding us down right now is a wireless network for us to test everything on and a real server.

Our idea is essentially a security enhancement device for example in airport security checkpoints.  It would take inputs for the passenger (from the boarding pass), chemical results from a chemical sniffer device, and database results and would recommend whether or not the security professionals should pursue a more in depth search into the person or his or her bags.  This would be determined by whether or not the chemicals detected match a known database of dangerous substances, whether or not the person is on any suspicious lists, and the tolerances would be affected by the national and local alert level.  The cool part in this is that the algorithm would get smarter based upon the feedback on results of the search, and thus become more accurate in determining the difference between normal items (soap) and dangerous items (bombs based upon soap products) and increase the efficiency of security searches.

The goal of this project is to integrate speech recognition software’s into Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) devices and to introduce a feature that would help physically disabled students in classroom.  Upon completion of this project, the integrated system will help students with disabilities to pursue a career in the information technologies area. 

The goal of this project is to define and implement an embedded architecture for developing smart sensor applications.   The board will include a microcontroller, memory modules (for dynamically learning and storing digital maps), and interfaces to various sensors such as velocity, position (GPS), and temperature.  The architecture can be used to help students with disabilities to navigate in a known or an unknown environment.

This project is to develop software for PDA for voice and data communications within ad-hoc wireless network. Upon completion of the projects, students with disabilities will be able to use the integrated systems for communications and downloading important daily messages from various buildings on campus. 

“Virtual NET-borhood”:  A Virtual Neighborhood Watch and Meeting Ground: Our project is a virtual meeting ground for members of a physical neighborhood.  By catering to a specific physical location we hope to develop neighborly interactions and with that, trust.  It is our belief that neighbors that know each other are more likely to look out for one another.  Since this application will be deployed on mobile devices (using Windows CE), users will be able to find out about local events on their mobile devices, despite their busy schedules. Our application contains features that increase safety and crime awareness such as a crime watch, weather alerts and live feeds from web cams on known crime areas and busy intersections.  Additionally, the application provides other modules that users would be interested in such as local news, public services, bartering and local pick-up games.