This Ball Is A Generator

With the World Cup only days away it is obvious to see that soccer, or futbol, is the most popular sport in the world. Not only is soccer a great fan sport, it is also a fun and easy sport to play. Soccer has limited rules and requires limited equipment, making it a fun game for children of all ages around the world.

During a group project at Harvard University students Jessica Lin, Julia Silverman, Jessica Matthews, Hemali Thakkar, and  Aviva Presser came up with an idea to harness the popularity and enjoyment of a soccer ball and put it to something practical. They came up with the idea of a soccer ball, the Soccket, that could store kinetic energy from use and then be used to power a light. Jessica Matthews eventually took this idea and evolved it into the company Uncharted Play.

The Soccket Ball has a gyroscopic pendulum that can generate six watts of power. After 30 minutes of play, the ball can later be used to power a small lamp for up to 3 hours.  According to Uncharted Play, nearly 2 billion people around the world lack access to a reliable energy source. Instead, they may rely on riskier sources for light like indoor fires and kerosene The Soccket ball is designed as a “fun” way to give them freedom to do safely do activities at night like homework.

Since coming out, Uncharted Play has received a lot of positive praise. In 2013 they went on Kickstarter to raise money and received praise from Bill Gates. They have also received praise from Bill Clinton and TED.

But not all responses to the product have been positive.  Some follow up has shown that the product may not have been ready for distribution since many had stopped working within days. Also many question the distribution and efficiency of the product.

I think the most important part of this invention is not that it will change life as we know it for those that use it, because it won’t.  Instead the idea of adding pendulums to everyday objects to give them a second a life as a generator, lessens our reliability on the grid, could change things. Imagine being able to plug your cell phone into your spoon after a bowl of cereal? Or a living in a fully powered house that relies on the power of your everyday routines?

Soccerball via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

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