Introducing the sOccket
For whatever reason, soccer has not caught in the United States like it has in the rest of the world. But that doesn't mean Americans can't use soccer as a canvas for incredible innovation. Case in point: Harvard grads Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman, co-founders of Uncharted Play, the organization that distributes the sOccket. The sOccket is, exactly as its punny name suggests, both a soccer ball and a light socket. It runs on kinetic energy, meaning the more soccer you play, the more stored energy you have to power electrical appliances.
This is obviously a very cool idea, but what's cooler is that Uncharted Play has a humanitarian angle, stemming from the co-founders' experience studying in developing countries. This means that you can't get a sOccket for yourself unfortunately (at least not right now), but you can donate one to someone who needs the electricity. Uncharted Play points out that "resource-poor families can spend 10 to 30 percent of their income on kerosene," which is linked to countless health issues such as respiratory problems, skin diseases, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The idea has garnered praise from the New York Times, Discovery, TED, and dozens of other media outlets; even former president Bill Clinton has called it "quite extraordinary."
Though one little soccer ball is not likely to solve the energy issues of hundreds of resource-poor, soccer-loving nations, it is a step towards more energy efficiency. Jessica Lin, one of the original inventors who worked with Matthews and Silverman at Harvard, told the New York Times, "We are trying to make a bigger statement about energy needs. Even if our project just starts people thinking about different ways to bring energy access to places like Africa, that’s really important."
Uncharted Play is currently working on sOccket 2.0; they just recently (in September of last year) released the first mass-produced sOcckets.
--Justin Cohn / image courtesy of Uncharted Play