- Inventions must be physical objects -- not abstract processes or concepts.
- There must be a working prototype, or something that demonstrates that an invention actually works.
- An invention should be poised to create a market or disrupt an existing one (in other words, not be a boondoggle in search of a problem).
- Inventions must be the work of independent inventors or small teams; outside funding is fine (even from movie stars), but inventions created wholly inside universities or other R&D labs won't be considered.
- Inventions intended to become commercial products are acceptable, but they must not already be available for sale.
- Inventions must be something new, not just a minor, incremental improvement on an existing object or product.
- Popular Science will not publish an entry online or in print without notifying the inventor first, but we will contact outside experts to verify the technology and significance of the invention.
- All intellectual-property protection is the responsibility of the entrant.
- All entries must be received by January 14, 2013 (the earlier, the better).