Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced the launch its Little Box Challenge on Tuesday, July 22nd. The Little Box Challenge offers a $1 million prize for any individual or group that can develop a smaller and less expensive power inverter.

Little Box Challenge google

All applications for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) ‘s Little Box Challenge must be submitted by September 30. After submitting your application, you will in have until July 22, 2015 to submit their technical specs and testing method, with the final winner to be selected in January of 2016.

Power inverters

Power inverters turn direct current gathered by solar or wind power and stored in batteries into alternating electrical current that is used to supply power  to homes, offices and cars. The development of cheaper and more portable inverters is a critical step in the development of solar power, and would be a major step forward in spreading the grid to remote places that currently have little or no access to electric power. The typical power converter right now is around the size and weight of four car batteries stacked together , and Google hopes they can be made about 10 times smaller.

Google’s Little Box Contest page

The Little Box Contest page states: “We believe that inverters will become increasingly important to our economy and environment as solar PV, batteries, and similar power sources continue their rapid growth. More broadly, similar forms of power electronics are everywhere: in laptops, phones, motors drives, electric vehicles, wind turbines, to give just a few examples. We expect that the innovations inspired by this prize will have wide applicability across these areas, increasing efficiency, driving down costs, and opening up new uses cases that we can’t imagine today. It also doesn’t hurt that many of these improvements could make our data centers run more safely and efficiently.”

The contest page concludes with: “[F]igure out how to shrink an inverter down to something smaller than a small laptop (a reduction of > 10× in volume) and smaller than everyone else, and you’ll win a million dollars (and help revolutionize electricity for the next century).”