Develop Wearable Power System And Win $1 Million

Aug. 10, 2007
DOD opts for 'open innovation' route to find solution.

The U.S. Department of Defense is looking for a few good inventors to help lessen the load soldiers carry as they head out on a mission. The right solution is worth $1 million.

The "load" is all the batteries soldiers carry to power everything from radios and night vision devices to global positioning devices. According to the Defense Department the weight of those energy storage devices can be as much as 20 to 40 pounds on a four-day mission.

The Defense Department is using the "open innovation" route in pursuit of a solution. It has launched a "wearable power" competition to spur individuals or teams to develop good ways to reduce the weight of those batteries. Prizes include $1 million for first place, $500,000 for second place, and $250,000 for third place.

The U.S. Department of Defense is seeking ideas to lessen the weight of the power packs carried by soldiers. The batteries power a wealth of useful military electronics, including night vision goggles. The competition will take place in the fall of 2008; however, interested parties must register to participate by Nov. 30, 2007.

The competition has specific goals. The objective is a wearable, prototype system that produces 20 watts average power for 96 hours and weighs 4 kilograms (about 8.8 pounds) or less.

Additional details are posted online at the Defense Research and Engineering Prize Web site,

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Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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