Getting outside and kicking a soccer ball around is often about expending pent-up energy. But then, that’s a waste of a lot of perfectly good electricity.
Enter the Soccket, a soccer ball that’s a lot more than stitching and air. Developed by Jessica Mathews as a Harvard undergraduate, the ball generates and stores electricity while it’s used.
“For every 30 minutes of play,” reports Fast Company, “the ball can juice up an LED lamp for three hours, cutting down on toxic kerosene lamp use. Just plug an LED lamp into the light, and voila, free energy.”
Developed in 2009, the Soccket was launched as a Kickstarter campaign this February after years of iteration and fine-tuning. Early models were inflatable but didn’t hold air well; later prototypes were too heavy to be practical. Now Kickstarter backers can get the newest model (a ball and LED lamp costs $99), which is light enough to be realistic, but still doesn’t bounce all that well.
“This version is significantly lighter and more efficient in terms of power generation. The only thing we couldn’t replicate in terms of a normal ball is the bounce. It was a tradeoff between wanting it to be hard or light with no bounce,” said Matthews.
The genesis of the idea was to make a popular pastime in developing countries into a useful activity. Now, the Soccket is ready for the masses.
“We didn’t want to do a Kickstarter campaign until we were pretty certain that we had the ball ready for the developed market versus the developing world market,” said Matthews. “We came to a point where we have the assembly, we know where it needs to be, what needs to happen. Now it’s about streamlining and retail.”
If you’re not in the market for a soccer ball that doubles as a bedside lamp, don’t be so quick to write The Soccket off. If it reaches its stretch goals on Kickstarter, additional features will be unlocked, such as an upgrade that would allow you to charge your smartphone instead of the lamp.
With 22 days to go, the Soccket is almost halfway to its pledge goal of $75,000.
Here’s to making soccer a bit more sustainable for everyone.