Cisco recently announced a developer contest entitled "Think Inside the Box." Their goal is to spark the development of truly innovative applications for the Application Extension Platform (AXP), a Linux-based service module available for 1841, 2800, and 3800 series ISRs.
The challenge? Think of something really cool to do with the AXP, and submit a high-level proposal to Cisco by January 12. Proposals will be judged and the ten best will move on to a second phase of the contest where the development begins. This is a great approach, as none of the nuts-and-bolts coding has to take place until you've got a better idea of your chances of winning. Even cooler, it seems Cisco will be offering finalists remote access to hosted hardware, meaning you (or your team) wouldn't have to invest in the gear yourself.
Cisco is awarding $50,000 to the first place team, $30,000 to second, and $20,000 to third. Easy money if you've got a kickass idea and knowledge of C/Perl/Python/Java. My biggest concern developing on the AXP would be its apparently modest hardware features; think embedded system rather than dedicated server. However, its tiny footprint and direct API access to the router could more than make up for such limitations.
Here's Robb Boyd and Jimmy Ray Purser (who is obviously very excited about the contest) of Cisco's TechWiseTV to lend a bit more depth to the above:
Additional Q&A can be found here.