Jessica Lin and three other female Harvard University students—Jessica Matthews, Julia Silverman, and Hemali Thakkar—created sOccket to produce a soccer ball that generates cheap, clean, off-grid electricity when rolled. The sOccket ball captures the energy from impact that is normally lost to the environment when the soccer ball is kicked, dribbled, or thrown and stores this energy for later use.
Their project started as a team project for an engineering sciences class at Harvard. They were inspired by dance floors that capture the energy of dancers jumping and moving around.
The ball uses inductive coil technology--similar to flashlights that power up when shaken. Each 15 minutes of play with the ball generates enough power to light up an LED lamp for 3 hours, so a soccer game could easily provide light for a day.
In most African countries, 95 percent of the population is living off-grid with no access to electricity. With sOccket, people in developing nations will no longer need to walk 3 hours simply to charge their cell phones. The power will—quite literally—be in their hands. The sOccket ball can be used to light an LED lamp, or charge a cellphone or battery.
sOccket will also benefit its users’ health: more than 1 billion people around the world rely on kerosene lamps to light their homes and businesses when the sun goes down. Not only is kerosene 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.
sOccket is producing its second round of prototypes and is working with working with a prototyping team and technical adviser associated with a new idea incubator at Harvard University. Early prototypes of the ball weigh just five ounces more than a regulation soccer ball, and their designs are getting lighter. sOccket plans to explore constructing the ball from materials local to Africa, as well as ball designs which will be durable in harsh conditions of dust, rain, and heat.
sOccket hopes to sell a high-end model for purchase in the U.S. and Europe using a “buy one-give one” offer. In addition, profits will be used to distribute the balls at little or no cost in developing countries through organizations like Whizz Kids United.
sOccket is being advised by Awista Ayub, an in Afghan author and girl's soccer team founder who was a a featured commentator for the Changemakers/Nike Gamechangers: Change the Game for Women in Sport competition. After entering the GameChangers competition, Soccket won a $1,500 award from the Clinton Global Initiative University to buy soccer balls and internal parts.