Thursday, July 08, 2010

New Soccer Ball Combines Sport and Utility

As this weekend's World Cup final approaches, four unlikely people have entered the soccer scene, not as players, but as innovators. Jessica Matthews, Jessica Lin, Hemali Thakkar, and Julia Silverman-all former Harvard engineering students-have come up with a new invention that may help brighten the future of poor people around the world: a soccer ball that doubles as a charger for LED lights and batteries.

The "Soccket," as it is called, is currently being tested in South Africa, where local kids have been given the opportunity to play with it. According to the CNN article, some kids could not tell a difference between the Soccket and a regular ball, describing it as "magic" when a light was powered by it.

Fifteen minutes of play generate 3 hours of LED lighting, the creators say. They are looking to market the balls in the poorest areas of the world, where access to electricity is not widespread and thus, the balls will have a bigger effect. According to the World Bank, in most African nations 95% of the population does not have access to electricity. It is hoped that the balls will eventually replace the use of kerosene-burning indoor lights, the fumes of which have the same effect as smoking two packs of cigarettes per day.

The creators are also hoping to create a basketball version of the product and possibly expand into other sports.

Andrew Oestreich