You know those ideas you just wish you’d thought of first? Soccket is one of them. And it’s about to hit the shops for the first time.
The brainchild of four-year-old New York startup Uncharted Play, Soccket is a soccer ball embedded with a pendulum-like mechanism that generates energy when it moves. It then converts the raw energy into an onboard port that supplies power to a small LED or USB charger. According to Uncharted Play, 30 minutes of kicking the ball can keep an LED light on for three hours.
In other words, it’s a Portable Generator – with a twist.
As we’re sure Isaac Newton would agree, the best ideas take a while to get off the ground, and Soccket is no exception. The ball was initially aimed at helping impoverished communities with no access to generated power. Since launching in 2009, the company has worked with NGOs in developing countries to put several thousand balls on the ground – literally. The slow and steady approach has been to build educational programs around the balls, to ensure the communities benefit from them in the way they should.
At the same time, this has enabled the manufacturers to improve the Soccket ball’s design based on feedback from the communities in Brazil and Mexico. Size, weight, circuitry – all have been tweaked and tweaked some more in the past four years. The final product is only an ounce heavier than a regular soccer ball, is water resistant and requires no inflation.
Next – the question of funding. The company decided to put the product on Kickstarter earlier this year. The project exceeded its funding goal of $US75,000 in March and is now in producing in a Long Island factory. So far, the Soccket has been distributed to poor areas in Mexico, South Africa and Brazil.
But Uncharted Play didn’t stop there. They’ve also given consumers the chance to buy a Soccket for about $US100.
Just imagine: The kids can generate power while playing soccer out the front of the campsite. And don’t worry about queuing at the festival charge station when your mobile goes flat – just kick the Soccket around for a while! It’s no wonder Bill Gates endorsed the product on Twitter; this is one Portable Generator everyone should have.
Word on the online grapevine is that the Harvard graduates and cofounders of Uncharted Play are now working on a second project called Ludo, a soccer ball that converts playtime into points, which can be used online to donate items to social projects worldwide. Stay tuned!