sOccket: a Power Plant in a Soccer Ball

Kids hold up a sOccket ball

Kids hold up a sOccket ball

“More than one out of every five people in the world lives without any access to electricity. That’s 1.4 billion people globally living without the modern energy that so many of us often take for granted.” This is the opening message for one of the best inventions I’ve seen lately, the sOccket ball – a portable power source. The sOccket gets kicked around, storing energy to be used later.

Without electricity it would be impossible for us to producer GeekBeat.TV, or for you the viewers/readers to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We in the United States do often take a stable power grid for granted. For people who don’t live in a region with a stable, affordable grid, there is now the sOccket ball.

The idea is simple enough, much of the world enjoys soccer (even if it’s not as popular in the US) and kicking the ball creates kinetic energy, what if some of that energy were siphoned from physical play to be tapped later? With the original sOccket, 15 minutes of play could power an LED light for three hours. This little ball is a big idea that could be a game changer for families in need of an energy solution.

The project has received significant attention from those concerned with energy problems in developing nations. The inventors, Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman presented at the Clinton Global Initiative University in April 2011 and caught the eye of former president Bill Clinton. He commented, “If ever there was an innovator, [Matthews] is it.” According to Fortune magazine, Mr. Clinton also asked her to participate on a “Designing for Humanity,” panel at the Clinton Global Initiative in September.

The prototype image for a sOccket version 1.0

The prototype image for a sOccket version 1.0

Invented by four women from Harvard University, Matthews and Silverman quit their day jobs and started a company to produce and market the ball. The original version used an “inductive coil mechanism to generate power,” but it was only a prototype and wasn’t very durable. Their newest ball, released September 23 of this year, is waterproof, will not deflate and can take a beating and keep on generating power. Furthermore, while the original could power only an LED lamp, the new generator-in-a-ball can power “LED lamps, water purifiers, mini-fridges, and emergency cell phone chargers,” according to their website.

Matthews and Silverman’s company, UnchartedPlay, hired engineers and designers to make the next version of the ball even more efficient and hardwearing. To date, UnchartedPlay has 2500 balls for distribution in Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica with plans to send more to Nigera and Haiti. They’ve also begun work on a basketball version (appealing to American consumers), and plan to construct a production factory in Nigera.

The women’s ideas are designed to help those in need of a simple, portable energy solution. Their website does admit the sOccket “isn’t the solution to the world’s energy problems, but it may be the spark that gets us there.” They’ve made enough capital to keep themselves afloat and are using extra to finance more innovations to help the energy crisis. The sOccket is a great start and a powerful idea.

To read more about the sOccket visit UnchartedPlay‘s website or www.soccket.com