Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (ASTAR) is offering a $100,000 prize to the winner of a competition to develop new multimedia search technologies.

The Star Challenge 2008 competition will last eight months and is open to competitors from around the world. Registration is underway and will close on 29 February, to be followed by three knockout rounds and a qualifying race for the finals, which will be held in Singapore.

ASTAR hopes to spur development of new technologies for multimedia search, allowing users to search out specific words in audio or video files without the use of tags. Teams are expected to develop search algorithms able to seek out specific words, objects and events in video and audio files.

Ahead of the knockout rounds, ASTAR will provide competitors with a set of development data and tools, including sample search queries and results. In the qualifying race to choose five teams that will compete in the finals, competitors will have to solve four challenges using the search technology they develop. Teams will be judged on the time it takes to complete all four challenges.

The finals, to be held on 20 October, will be judged by a panel of professors drawn from Singapore and other countries. The five finalists will race to complete four challenges with the fastest team taking home the cash prize.