sOccket: Power Through Play

Posted on October 8, 2010  Comments (3)

In a fun example of appropriate technology and innovation 4 college students have created a football (soccer ball) that is charged as you play with it. The ball uses an inductive coil mechanism to generate energy, thanks in part to a novel Engineering Sciences course, Idea Translation. They are beta testing the ball in Africa: the current prototypes can provide light 3 hours of LED light after less than 10 minutes of play. Jessica Matthews ”™10, Jessica Lin ”™09, Hemali Thakkara ”™11 and Julia Silverman ”™10 (see photo) created the eco-friendly ball when they all were undergraduates at Harvard College.

photo of sOccket creators: Jessica Matthews, Jessica Lin, Hemali Thakkara and Julia Silverman

sOccket creators: Jessica Matthews, Jessica Lin, Hemali Thakkara and Julia Silverman

They received funding from: Harvard Institute for Global Health and the Clinton Global Initiative University. The

sOccket won the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, which recognizes the innovators and products poised to change the world. A future model could be used to charge a cell phone.

From Take part: approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide use kerosene to light their homes. “Not only is kerosene expensive, but its flames are dangerous and the smoke poses serious health risks,” says Lin. Respiratory infections account for the largest percentage of childhood deaths in developing nations””more than AIDS and malaria.

Related: High school team presenting a project they completed to create a solution to provide clean waterWater Pump Merry-go-RoundEngineering a Better World: Bike Corn-ShellerGreen Technology Innovation by College Engineering Students

Watch a June 2010 interview on the ball:

3 Responses to “sOccket: Power Through Play”

  1. mikem
    October 30th, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    Ultimately, you would need to consider the energy used to manufacture the product minus energy harnessed as a byproduct of using the product over the lifetime of the product, plus the energy required to safely dispose of or recycle the product, compared to the same costs for a normal soccer ball, to know if this is eco-friendly and appropriate technology.

    I am skepitcal that this product would be viable without government or private subsidy. Great publicity stunt, though.

  2. Jay
    June 16th, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

    Please ignore the sourgrapes response of Mikern below. This is a wonderfully innovative idea. I wonder if the same concept could be used in factories to convert used energy in a manufacturing plant, for example, to stored energy to then power the plant or at least turn on the lights or provide warmth or turn on a fan.

  3. Footballs Providing Light to Those Without Electricity at Home » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    January 15th, 2012 @ 2:05 am

    […] is an update on our previous post: sOccket: Power Through Play. This year, Soccket, 3,000 balls are scheduled to be put into use around the world. The college […]

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