- Inventions must be physical objects—no processes or concepts.
- There must be a working prototype or something else that demonstrates that the invention actually works.
- Inventions must be the work of independent inventors or small teams; outside funding is fine, but inventions created wholly out of universities or other R&D labs will not be considered.
- Inventions that are intended to become commercial products in the future are acceptable, but they must not already be available for sale.
- Inventions must be something new, not just an incremental improvement on an existing thing.
- Popular Science will not publish an entry online or in print without notifying the inventor first, but we will seek third-party verification of the technology and significance of the invention. All intellectual-property protection is the responsibility of the entrant.
- All entries must be received by February 24, 2012.