The “Little Box Challenge” contest developed by Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is seeking teams of engineers to reduce the size of power inverters to a size smaller than a compact laptop. The winning team to build the smallest power inverter will receive a $1 million prize.
Power inverters convert electricity from solar panels and batteries, and turn it to alternating current that can be used in homes and businesses. Currently, household inverters are the size of a picnic cooler, and this poses a challenge. If they could be made smaller, there would be more solar-powered homes, improved efficiency in distributed electricity grids, and the potential to provide electricity to remote parts of the world. Teams who want to participate in the challenge must be registered by September 30, 2014.