When we first covered the SOCCKET power-generating soccer ball back in 2010, the concept was in the prototype stages of development. Since then, the ex-Harvard University team responsible for the design has launched the for-profit social enterprise company Uncharted Play, filed patents for the SOCCKET’s kinetic energy-capturing technology and, more recently, has launched a SOCCKET Kickstarter campaign.
The SOCCKET is one of those simple-yet-effective ideas that takes something as basic and commonplace as a soccer ball and “bends it like Beckham” to the task of improving energy usage and the living conditions of those who really need it.
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Designed and assembled in the U.S., the finalized product is made from water-resistant ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam that the makers say is soft and durable. Uncharted Play also says it doesn't need inflating, making it virtually deflation-proof, and weighs in at 17 oz (482 g) – only one ounce heavier than a regular size-five soccer ball. The added weight comes mostly from the charging device hidden inside.
The kinetic energy generated while having a good old kick-around with the SOCCKET is harnessed by a small pendulum-like mechanism inside the ball that turns a generator to charge a rechargeable battery. The stored energy can later be utilized in a completely off-grid way by plugging a goose neck-style LED lamp into the six watt output socket on the ball. The company claims that just 30 minutes of ball-play can power a simple LED lamp for up to three hours.
During the development of the SOCCKET, the Uncharted Play team has tested the ball’s energy-generating capabilities in places such as South America and Africa, which have many resource-poor communities (not to mention a fondness for the “World Game” itself.) According to the company's research, families within these communities often burn kerosene, wood fires and even diesel generators in and around their homes, which can be a dangerous and highly-toxic mix to themselves and the atmosphere.
The current Kickstarter project is seeking to raise funds to go to market with the SOCCKET, mass-producing it in the U.S. for export. See the video below for more details about the campaign.
At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has raised just over US$32,000 out of the required $75,000. Making a pledge of $99 will snag you a SOCCKET ball and the accompanying LED lamp.