Meet sOccket, a soccer ball that is embedded with energy-harvesting technology, which captures the energy when the soccer ball is kicked and stores it for later use as a power source. For each 15 minutes of play, the ball can store enough energy to illuminate a small LED light for three hours.
There is a huge need for cheap, clean, simple, off-grid energy solutions that are available for immediate use. In most African countries, 95 per cent of the population is living off-grid with no access to electricity (World Bank Millennium Goals Report, 2006).
sOccket will also benefit its users’ health: more than 1 billion people around the world rely on paraffin lamps to light their homes and businesses. Not only is paraffin expensive, but its flames are dangerous and the smoke poses serious health risks. In fact, respiratory infections account for the largest percentage of childhood deaths in developing nations – more than AIDS and more than malaria. The World Bank estimates that breathing the fumes created from burning paraffin indoors equals the harmful effects of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Thus sOccket is a source of clean energy derived from healthy activity.
Burning paraffin for lighting also generates some 190 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions, according to recent estimates — the equivalent emissions of about 38 million vehicles.
Early prototypes of the ball use an inductive coil mechanism similar to the technology found in shake-to-charge flashlights. The movement of the ball forces a magnet through a metal coil that induces current in the coil to generate electricity.
The sOccket team, made up of four diverse Harvard University women with experience in soccer, energy and Africa, is currently developing its second prototype, working with Dot Dot Dot Ex Why Zed, a design and engineering firm based in Cape Town. Together, they are exploring other energy-harvesting mechanisms to be used in sOccket 2.0. The foursome is also working with fair trade production centres in Africa to look into the design of locally produced and sustainable balls.
The goal is to have sOcckets ready to launch by the end of 2010.
* Article: Designed to succeed, featuring Dot Dot Dot Ex Why Zed