In 15 years as a percussionist with British electronica band Faithless, Sudha Kheterpal has spent countless nights energetically bashing away on cymbals, snares and high-hats. This has inspired her to wonder how the power of music could be extended beyond the flailing arms and shaking hips in the crowd. She has now teamed up with designers and engineers to develop Spark, a shaker that harnesses kinetic energy with the aim of bringing power to the developing world.
According to the World Bank, around 70 percent of Africans are not connected to a power grid, relying on kerosene lanterns and candles for lighting. Spark is designed to offer not just an alternative to these unreliable lighting solutions, but better connect residents of rural regions with medical, education and banking services through mobile charging capabilities.
The Spark works in a similar way to other electricity generators like Brother's Vibration Energy Cell and the nPower PEG. Along with beads for making the music, Spark houses a magnet that moves through a copper coil as the instrument is shaken, creating a current and charging the battery. According to Kheterpal, 12 minutes of jamming can produce enough electricity to run an external USB light for one hour.
Even in the hands of the most energetic movers and shakers, this is hardly going to power entire communities. It is hoped, however, that Spark can make small, but important differences. Kheterpal has been testing prototypes with communities in Kenya and anticipates applications such as guiding school kids home in the dark and providing light for night time reading.
She has taken to Kickstarter to further develop the prototype and scale up production of Spark. With a goal of £50,000 (around US$85,000), Kheterpal is aiming to raise enough funds to improve the materials and increase the power capacity, add a mobile phone charging feature and distribute Spark to 1,000 Kenyan homes. She also hopes to develop educational assembly kits whereby children studying science, music and engineering can build the instruments themselves to learn about the technology.
Pledges of £150 (US$260) will have one of the energy-generating musical instruments headed your way, provided the campaign runs as planned. Delivery is slated for March 2015.