Bill Clinton has described the concept, which was the brainchild of Harvard students Jessica Lin, Julia Silverman, Jessica Matthews, Hemali Thakkaras and Aviva Presser, as 'extraordinary'. He added: 'It’s an off-grid solution that gives us a way to bring power and improved quality of life, working capacity and learning capacity.' The idea combines football, the world's most popular sport, with the huge need for electricity in developing countries - a staggering one in five people around the globe are without power.
The ball, which has been trialled in South Africa, is waterproof, durable and doesn't need to be inflated. It uses inductive coil technology which involves having a metal coil and magnetic slug that goes forwards and backwards. Ms Silverman and Ms Matthews have gone on to develop the mass-produced version of the ball through their own not-for-profit company Unchartered Play. In many developing countries, reliance on kerosene lamps has led to numerous health problems.
The World Bank estimates that breathing the fumes created from burning kerosene indoors equates to the harmful effect of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Burning kerosene for lighting also generates some 190 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions, according to recent estimates — the equivalent emissions of about 38 million automobiles. The special ball can currently be used with an ac adaptor but the designers hope this will be expanded in the future to enable other products to be charged by it. The initial inspiration came from hi-tech dance floors which can capture energy from dancers’ movements.
Ms Matthews added: 'The idea was come together and using art and science pick an issue and try to make it better. 'We started to think about the time we’d spent overseas and we’d all had this similar experience of seeing kids play. 'These kids aren’t allowed to be children for very long. They have to deal with very serious issues in their lives every single day. 'Sometimes giving these kids the ball before we even show them the power generation part is such an amazing thing because they have a ball which doesn’t require inflation - you are telling them that the tooth fairy does exist.' Ms Silverman added: ‘Just as much as we noticed that there was so much universal love for soccer we also noticed there’s a huge market for safe, sustainable immediate power access.'