TechInsights Announces Winners of Microchip PIC32 Design Challenge at ESC Silicon Valley

Innovative, social-networking community for engineers worldwide attracted more than 9,600 community members; Prizes total more than $200,000.

SAN JOSE, Calif.
Apr 1, 2009

EMBEDDED SYSTEMS CONFERENCE --- TechInsights announced today the winning design of the Microchip PIC32 Design Challenge (, a year-long contest and community sponsored by Microchip Technology Inc. and Digi-Key Corporation, as the exclusive distributor. More than 9,600 community members rated and voted to select the top designs submitted in this international competition. To review all the designs, visit

The Grand Prize Winner, Portable Notetaker for the Blind, by Nghia Tran (txnghia), is an electronic assistant for the visually impaired. The device enables Braille note taking via Microchip's mTouch™ Sensing Solution, audio playback, and navigation and color-sensing assistance. Mr. Tran's design not only promises a significant quality-of-life improvement for millions of people, but demonstrated a wide variety of the Microchip PIC32 microcontroller capabilities. Mr. Tran won prizes valued at over $14,000, including an LCD HDTV and Bose® Lifestyle® V20 home theater system.

The Second Prize Winner, Smart Home Base, by Jingxi Zhang (jingxizhang) enables automated bridging between cellular phones and Skype as well as remote home automation capabilities. Mr. Zhang's design integrated a rich set of software, including the Micrium uC/OS-II RTOS and the free TCP/IP stacks from Microchip. Mr. Zhang won prizes valued at over $9,000 including a MacBook Air Laptop.

The Third Prize Winner, BUMS (Bathroom Utilities Management System), was created by Brent Morse (bmorse). This "green" design enables personalized home energy conservation by managing water usage and automatic faucet and lighting control. Mr. Morse's design extensively leveraged Microchip's software libraries including TCP/IP stacks and the embedded web server. Mr. Morse won prizes valued at more than $7,000.

Honorable Mention goes to FIGARO, the lawn-barber by Levente Kiss (kile) and Carb Counter Plus by Mike Pearce (mimemike). The total estimated value of all contestant and community Prizes exceeded $200,000.

The four-phase Design Challenge fostered a social community where designers built, tested and displayed their designs through the use of blogs, videos and forums. This interactive community of members and contestants rated and voted on each submitted design according to its design value criteria. As well, they posted blogs, participated in forums and contributed comments and suggestions directly to contestant blogs and profiles to help them advance their designs. Each week, community members were eligible for prizes based on their participation and activity within the PIC32 Design Challenge community.

Contestants of the Design Challenge started with Microchip's PIC32 Starter Kit, an easy to use, all-in-one module (retail $49) based on the high performance Microchip PIC32 32-bit Microcontroller. The first phase of the contest generated 396 abstracts. A set of three industry expert judges, as well community members, voted during the challenge to determine which contestants "survived" each phase and were awarded prizes to help them continue on their contest journey.

"Watching the designs evolve from an abstract in Phase 1 to designing the hardware in Phase 2 to the software in Phase 3 and Prototype in Phase 4, has been exciting. It was nice to 'meet' the contestants and get to know them better as they were posting video blogs and sharing ideas with the community along the way," said Richard Nass, Director of Content/Media at TechInsights and Challenge judge. "Selecting the Top 3 winners was very difficult, designs were so creative and the community members were so passionate about their favorite designs."

Terry West, PIC32 Marketing Manager at Microchip agreed:. "Watching the community interact over these twelve months has been entertaining and insightful. The personal aspect of this challenge is so unique. We've seen the contestants and community members alike, share their frustrations, excitement and innovation in the forums. We've watched their designs progress in their videos. We've read their blogs... and we've cheered for them along the way! The community has also been so supportive in helping contestants when they needed it. I'm very proud to be involved with such a great community."

"A lot of the designs in this challenge turned out to be very creative, and very useful for a broad range of possible users. The selection at each phase has been difficult because of the commendable effort and thought that was put into each project. I enjoyed meeting the top 5 designers at ESC in San Jose," added Scott Wing, Director of Technical Support at Digi-Key.

To see all the entries, including the winning designs, visit

About TechInsights (

TechInsights is the global leader in media, marketing, and professional services for the electronics industry. We deliver results for the "Creators of Technology" -- those key influencers and decision makers involved in the definition, development, protection, and commercialization of technology and related intellectual property. More than 1.1 million engineering professionals engage with our online brands -- EE Times, TechOnline, DesignLines, and -- monthly across Europe, India, Japan, Taiwan, mainland China and North America. As well, the technology community comes to our face-to-face events -- the Embedded Systems Conferences and Intellectual Property Symposia -- to share, learn, discuss, and advance the critical issues and challenges facing the electronics industry. Finally, for those clients with a specific technology, or intellectual property objective we engage on a custom basis through our TechInsights Services team -- Portelligent, Sanguine Microelectronics, and Semiconductor Insights.

TechInsights is a division of United Business Media, a global provider of news distribution and specialist information services with a market capitalization of more than $1.6B.

About Microchip Technology

Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHP) is a leading provider of microcontroller and analog semiconductors, providing low-risk product development, lower total system cost and faster time to market for thousands of diverse customer applications worldwide. Headquartered in Chandler, Arizona, Microchip offers outstanding technical support along with dependable delivery and quality. For more information, visit the Microchip website at

About Digi-Key Corporation

One of the world's fastest growing distributors of electronic components, Digi-Key has earned its reputation as an industry leader through its total commitment to service and performance. As a full-service provider of both prototype/design and production quantities of electronic components, Digi-Key has been ranked #1 for Overall Performance for 16 consecutive years from among the nation's more than 200 distributors (EE Times Distribution Study/ May 2007). Offering more than a million products from over 400 quality name-brand manufacturers Digi-Key's commitment to inventory is unparalleled. Access to the company's broad product offering is available 24/7 at Digi-Key's top-rated website,

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