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 […]

Leave a Reply