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18.6.12

Solution: The ball is seen as a possible solution to the heavy reliance on kerosene lamps to provide light in Africa


  • One in five people are without electricity, football is world's biggest game
  • Kicking ball for 30 minutes creates three hours power

  • A new football which captures the energy created when it is kicked and transforms it into electricity is set to help provide a power solution for developing countries.  Called the Soccket, the revolutionary ball builds up enough energy to power a light for three hours from just 30 minutes of play.  The clever invention is made from materials found in developing countries and costs only slightly more than a normal high end ball to produce.
     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. 
    What's inside: Within the ball is an induction coil. A magnet rapidly oscillates when the ball is kicked. This movement powers a motor and the electricity is stored
    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.

    Charging children: The ball not only gives youngsters in developing countries the opportunity to play football, it also provides them with a vital power source
     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.'
     Neat invention: The Soccket ball features a socket for an ac adaptor it can be used to power lights and to charge mobile phones

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