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Google and IEEE Offer $1 Million Prize for Smaller Power Inverter

Bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to power inverters, which are devices that convert electricity from direct current (such as solar panels and batteries) into alternating current for use in homes, businesses and electric cars. That’s why Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers are teaming up to offer a $1 million prize to whoever can build a much smaller one. “The problem is household inverters are too big — roughly the size of a picnic cooler. Making them smaller would enable more solar-powered homes, more efficient distributed electrical grids, and could help bring electricity to the most remote parts of the planet,” Google says.

The goal of Google and the IEEE’s “ Little Box Challenge” contest is to reduce the size of power inverters by 10 times or greater — to about the size of a laptop. Whoever accomplishes that engineering feat “will help change the future of electricity,” Google says. And be a million bucks richer.