A lot of Windows Embedded people will be at Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) next week, in San Jose, California. Have you heard of this ESC? It is one of the main conferences for people what work on embedded things. I’m not going, because I’ll be on vacation.

Don’t mind me, vacationing my head off.

But back to business. I went to the last ESC event, it was held in Boston, Mass. right when I started this job. My contribution was to stand at the booth and look anxious. It was fun, though, hearing what the attendees were working on—not all Windows Embedded projects, just any kind of embedded anything. One guy was making a little spy ball you can throw somewhere (like around a corner or in a window) and when it lands it immediately takes 360-degree photos and sends the scene to a little machine I’m holding hundreds of yards away, looking furtive in a trench coat and white sneakers, trying to figure out what the H you're up to.

But seriously, back to business. The most fun thing of all the things Windows Embedded is doing at ESC is letting attendees vote for the winner of a hobbyist contest we’ve been running. The winner takes home $15,000, which, in the current economic climate, is nothing to sneeze at. In the contest, people from all over the place submitted ideas about what home-automation-y device they could make with Windows Embedded, and then we sent the likely contenders a kit with all the stuff they needed, for free, and then they made things. Finalists to report include:

  • The Smart Pill: An intelligent medication dispenser that combines disparate technologies into a machine that recognizes a patient’s medications, understands the pharmaceutical information, and helps the user take the correct medication at the right time.
  • Home Brain System (HBS): A central nervous system that manages network-enabled devices in the home, allowing them to function together based on the occupants’ wants and needs.
  • Computing at a Glance: Extends ambient computing into a natural, two-way interface through eye motion and a few simple, natural gestures.

We're flying those finalists to San Jose to demo their devices on stage... and the winner will be sent to TechEd, too. Fancy. You can check out the other submissions on the contest site. I like this little training buddy submission the most, where the computer tells you how great you are all the time.

If I won $15,000, I would just pay people to tell me how great I am all the time.