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    The Challenge

    The element14 Community, in partnership with Avnet, is excited to announce our Sensing the World Challenge! The challenge is powered by the Avnet Azure Sphere MT3620 Starter Kit, a solution for creating secured IoT edge devices with a ton of potential applications.

    This challenge has two phases:


    • Phase 1: Get Connected: get your kit connected to the cloud to send data
    • Phase 2: Sensing the World: use the kit in a real-world application by building a cool project


    The Starter Kit is free* to anyone who applies, you'll only be responsible for shipping costs and any potential customs duties. For getting connected you could potentially win a $200 USD gift card, and for building your project application you can win a prize pack of Microsoft gear worth up to $3,500 USD!

      See all the details below, and go here to register for your free kit*! You may register for your kit on a mobile or desktop browser and receive your voucher code, but to complete your purchase order for the kit you must use a desktop browser. Please also disable any adblock software at the point when you are adding your voucher code on the e-commerce site, as these have been known to interfere with the use of the free kit voucher. Please note that your community registration entitles you to order one (1) free Azure Sphere kit if they are available to your country, and any attempt to abuse the process may forfeit your entry into the Design Challenges.


    The Kit

    The MT3620 reference dev board is a production-ready, fast and easy way to equip IoT endpoint devices to be highly secure, ensuring that developers can easily move from prototype to production. It has built-in Microsoft security, Wi-Fi connectivity, and the combined versatility and power of an Arm Cortex-A7 processor with the low overhead and real-time guarantees of two Cortex-M4F MCUs. A suite of on-chip peripherals, real-time clock, Flash, and RAM are present. Up to 27 configurable GPIOs and three configurable serial ports (UART, I2C, or SPI) are provided as I/Os on the module.
      The carrier board connects the Sphere module I/Os to a pair of MikroE Click sockets, an I2C Grove connector, a connector supporting the addition of a 128 x 64 OLED graphical display, a 3D accelerometer, 3D gyro, temperature sensor, and an ambient light sensor. Debugging is accomplished through a USB-to-UART interface, which provides the necessary 5V power for the board. There are a wide range of MikroE click boards available to add different capabilities; please note that we do not expect click boards at 5 volts to work with the kit, only those at 3.3 volts.


    User applications for the embedded Sphere controller are developed in C using Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE and the Azure Sphere SDK. Visual Studio provides a powerful yet easy-to-use development environment for compiling and debugging application code. The combination of Visual Studio, the versatile carrier card, and the production-ready Sphere module delivers a powerful starting point for IoT developers interested in learning, prototyping, and deploying Azure Sphere based solutions.


    To get started with your Azure Sphere Kit, we have two element14 bloggers who have written detailed instructions for startup: Workshopshed's Blog Series and Brian Willess's Out-of-Box demo.


    Important Dates



    Phases 1 & 2 Enrollment BeginsJuly 17th, 2019
    Phase 1 Due DateNovember 30th, 2019
    Phase 2 Due DateNovember 30th, 2019
    Winners AnnouncedDecember 16th, 2019


    Phase 1: Get Connected


    Here's how to participate in Phase 1 and be eligible for the awesome prizes listed below. OCTOBER 2019 UPDATE: Phase 1 will now close November 30th, 2019, rather than October 27th, 2019. This is to accommodate those countries who were not until recently eligible for free kits, and those whose kits are ordered but still having the order filled.



    Register on element14Register on element14 or log in to your existing account.


    Navigate to the Azure Sphere space, and sign up to receive your Avnet Azure Sphere kit for free*. You will need to pay the cost of shipping and any taxes or customs duties for your country. You can still participate if your country is not eligible for free kits. See all eligible countries.


    Once you have your kit in hand, connect it and register it. Getting Started


    Once per day, for at least 15 days in a row, run the daily sync application which will let your starter kit ping Microsoft's server. On your first run of the application you will register your kit, and afterwards you will merely need to run the app again to check in. Instructions for this quick and easy process are provided here.


    You have until November 30th, 2019 to complete Phase 1 and be entered in the running to win a gift card worth $200 USD (in your country's currency, of course). Go here for instructions on the sync process for Phase 1. See the Prizes section below for more details.


    We are also hosting a Connections Raffle, so connect your kit to the contest server between September 11th and 25th for a chance to win a $200 USD shopping cart of parts you choose!


    Also, for our Get Connected challenge the team at SoftWeb Solutions have built an amazing "heat map" of the Azure Sphere kits that have been connected for the element14 and challenges! Check it out here:


    Azure Sphere Challenges Heat Map



    Phase 2: Sensing the World

    Build your Sensing the World project. We want you to use the Azure Sphere kit—as well as any peripherals you’d like to connect—to build a project and document it on our community. Your design must be based around the Avnet Azure Sphere kit, but the application you choose is up to you! We want you to use your ingenuity to show the potential applications of the Azure Sphere dev platform.

    Here's how to participate in Phase 2 and be eligible for the awesome prizes listed below:




    You must complete Phase 1: Get Connected to be eligible to win in Phase 2. You can, of course, be working on your Azure Sphere project while completing the Phase 1 requirement.


    You must post one blog on element14 documenting your project thoroughly. Your build must be a unique submission for this competition.


    Your blog needs to be posted in the Azure Sphere space on element14.


    Your blog must include HD quality photos and/or video(s) of your project, as well as any code used.


    You have until November 30th, 2019 to complete your project and upload your blog onto the element14 community.


    If you're new to our element14 Design Challenges, here are a few examples of projects that won challenges, to demonstrate both what we think is a great build and what it means to explain that build to the broader community: RFID Fingerprint Skeleton Key, Bluetooth Smart Doorbell, and Raspberry Pi IoT Alarm Clock.


    Also, is running a sister design competition to our Sensing the World called Secure Everything, and you are allowed and encouraged to participate in both challenges!


    If you complete Phase 2 you will be eligible for its prizes (see Prizes below), as long as you have also completed Phase 1.


    Register to BlogPost Your Blogs



    The projects will be judged on their ingenuity, how well they achieve their stated purpose, and on how thoroughly the project is documented in your blog. If you propose to build a flying car with your Azure Sphere that’s super cool, but probably difficult to complete by the deadline of November 30th, 2019, so choose great ideas that are also achievable within the allotted time frame and document them thoroughly.


    The challenge judges will include element14 staff, top members of element14 who are not participating in the challenge, and guest judges from Avnet.



    Phase 1 Prizes - There will be 50 winners selected in total, who will receive gift cards worth the equivalent of $200 USD in their local currency. To be eligible for this prize, you must connect your kit to the cloud and send data once per day for 15 consecutive days, as detailed above. Phase 1 ends November 30th, 2019, so get started with Phase 1 as soon as you receive your kit!


    The 50 winners will be selected after the November 30th, 2019 close of the design challenge. These winners will be selected randomly from among those who have completed the Phase 1 requirement. You may choose to compete in this challenge and only complete Phase 1, but since the prizes available for Phase 2 are much more exciting we strongly suggest you compete in both! To be eligible for Phase 2 prizes you must have also completed Phase 1.


    Phase 2 Prizes - The prizes for Phase 2 are based on the project you build using the Azure Sphere kit. For Phase 2 there will be 10 runner-up prizes and 3 grand prizes. To be eligible for either a runner-up or grand prize you must have completed the Phase 1 requirements.


    Each Runner-Up or Grand Prize winner can choose one (1) of the following prize bundles. The availability of the products might depend on your country, so we will work with you to be sure you get an equivalent bundle.



    10 Runner-Up PrizesXbox One X, Xbox Wireless Controller, Xbox One Stereo Headset, Surface Go Tablet (128GB HD Intel 4415Y 8GB Ram), Surface Keyboard, Surface Mouse OR
    Surface Laptop 2 (256GB HD Intel i7 8GB RAM), Surface Mouse, Surface Pen
    3 Grand PrizesHoloLens 2 (these are currently only for pre-order, we cannot guarantee they will be available at the close of the challenge for purchase) OR
    Surface Book 2 (15” 512GB HD Intel i7 16GB RAM), Surface Mouse, Surface Pen, Xbox One X, Xbox Wireless Controller, Xbox One Stereo Headset OR
    Surface Studio (1TB HD Intel i7 12GB RAM)