Spark is back on Kickstarter with Core

Minneapolis startup Spark Devices is back on Kickstarter with Core, a Wi-Fi development board that makes it easier for makers and hackers build internet-connected hardware products. 

“Think of it as a super-charged, miniaturized Arduino with built-in Wi-Fi,” Spark co founder Zach Supalla says of the Core, with their initial goal of raising $10k by pre-selling roughly three hundred widgets and a variety of shield accessories.

Core is a tiny Wi-Fi enabled development board: CC3000 WI-FI module from Texas Instruments72 MHz ARM Cortex M3, wireless programming/firmware, hardware cloud and REST API.

Supalla has spent the better part of three months living and working in Shenzhen China, as part of HAXLR8R, “an accelerator for people who hack hardware and make things.”

Spark Core 2

“One of our goals from the onset has been to be a company that powers the connected home. There’s a lot of different ways to create connected products, and with Core, it’s part of an infrastructure layer that makes it easy for other people to make cool things.”

Electric Imp is one comparable solution already in the market, although Supalla contends that Core will be more open and flexible, making it as inviting as possible to start and stay with Core long term.

“The Core is a totally open source hardware product. All of our hardware design files (schematic, board design, and bill of materials) and firmware will be open source. The components we’re using are available from any major distributor. We’re also sticking with open standards (HTTP, TCP, TLS/SSL, Protocol Buffers) for all of our communications.”

Spark Devices Core 3

Using REST API, the Spark Cloud “will supercharge every Spark Core with a suite of cool software-enabled features.”

Spark Core is actually the second product the company has brought to Kickstarter for crowdfunding. The Spark Socket + lighting app, which launched in November last year, failed to meet the $250k goal — although it did propel the team ahead and ultimately in with HAXLR8R in the first place.

“A lot of the challenges we faced with the initial socket — the injection molding, UL certification, etc. — are nonexistent with Core.  It’s much easier to produce this at low volumes, we can flex based on demand. The Core is actually something we built for a different product in development, but once we built it, we realized how powerful it was on it’s own.”

Spark Devices Core 4

Spark’s team consists of Supalla, CTO Zac Crockett, community manager Stephanie Rich and design engineer Will Hart. The group will leave China and head to San Francisco for Demo Day on May 13, hit the Maker Faire in San Francisco on May 18 & 19, and be back in Minneapolis the week of May 20th.

“Shenzhen has been great for us, it’s the best place in the world to be for what we’re doing, but we can’t wait to be home.”


  • Paul Prins

    Really excited to see what people do with Core. So much potential