Innovators at Uncharted Play wanted to promote cheap, clean energy both in the US and in developing nations worldwide.
For inspiration, they turned to the world’s most popular sport: soccer. Their astounding creation, the Sockket, is a soccer ball that produces energy as you play.
Co-founder and CEO Jessica Matthews wanted to convert an international game into a practical and innovative solution to obtaining energy. In 2009, she partnered with fellow Harvard undergraduates to begin development on the Sockket.
Uncharted Play’s first few attempts fell short of optimal efficiency. The ball needed to be light enough to use in gameplay, but practical for everyday use as an energy producer. The first Sockket was inflatable but produced only short, temporary bursts of energy. The second incarnation was too weighty to be used in casual play. The penultimate Sockket was light but rigid, and involved extensive internal devices that interfered with optimal construction.
The innovators finally found the secret to a Sockket that could be used for energy production as well as play. The Soccket is a dense but ultralight foam ball. The final form allows for water resistance while remaining light enough for everyday play.
Co-creator Matthews notes only one drawback of the Soccket compared to a standard soccer ball: less bounce.
An internal gyroscope interacts with a generator that connects to the ball’s battery. On the outside of the Soccket, a port can be sealed during play or opened to power an LED lamp. Uncharted Play designers hope a future incarnation will be able to power a variety of technological devices.
For every 30 minutes that the ball is used, the attached lamp will shine for three hours. Fully charged, the lamp will glow for three days without interruption. The Soccket offers significant opportunities for the poorest countries to gain access to free energy. Developed nations can incorporate the Soccket’s environmentally-sound light to cut down on their use of pricey and unclean energy.
Uncharted Play envisions several Soccket upgrades to increase the product’s applications and appeal. A proposed Soccket will charge smartphones without requiring external electricity. Another concept model will show users exactly how much power they generate as they play.
Uncharted Play offers their Soccket and LED lamp on Kickstarter for $99 plus shipping. The Kickstarter campaign was introduced to boost the ball’s exposure to consumers in developed nations. Matthews asserts that current Soccket assembly methods rely heavily on manual labor. Kickstarter contributions will enable the company to produce more Socckets and expand into developing markets.
Ultimately, Matthews expresses a loyalty to the Soccket supporters who have consistently stood behind Uncharted Play. “We put this together for our fans,” she said, offering a shout-out to followers on Twitter and Facebook.
Uncharted Play hopes to offer the Soccket in online stores by 2014.