This is the kind of technology I really enjoy writing about and like to see coming out of brilliant young minds. What I didn't write in the story but maybe should've mentioned is that Harvard students came up with the idea, but it was a push from Bill Clinton, who heard about it from one of the inventors when she spoke at something he sponsored, who pushed them to commercialize it. I'm glad he did. We really need people thinking like this to help make positive changes in the world. What we take for granted could really mean a lot to someone who is not as advantaged.
I think something like this is great for anybody and not just people or countries with energy poverty. Imagine just having it around for charging your phone after a game or having a light when walking back to your car after a game. But one question I have is would a country like North Korea jail anyone with possesion of the ball? I think in my case I would like to see it come in a basketball.
Yes, that was another point that I didn't mention in the story, but also it could be good for many practical applications for anyone, which is why they are doing the Kickstarter campaign. Alison even shared a story of when she was at a music festival and needed to charge her iPhone and wished she'd had a SOCCKET to do so. I myself go camping a lot and find myself out of battery for my devices all the time. I have a charger in my VW van but it saps the van's battery. so I don't like to use it too much. A SOCCKET would be perfect. I'm sure this technology can be applicable to all sorts of playing balls in the future.
What a great way to call attention to energy harvesting. It's also interesting that the developers are involved in a Kickstarter program. We're seeing Kickstarter get mentioned a lot these days. Just in the past few days I've heard it mentioned in a breathalyzer application for iPhones and in a new electronic basketball (we'll have an article about that one in the next few days).
@robatnorcross: Actually, it's assembled in the U.S., and is intended for distribution in the developing world. Did you even read the article? It's a actually a neat idea. It's not an April Fools joke; Popular Mechanics covered it in 2010, and the BBC covered it last year. I think it's a creative concept, and one that makes a lot of sense.
My thoughts are similar to Tim's, since I live in the rainy, windy tall redwood tree forest where we have regular power outages. While I'd rather not have to kick a soccer ball to harvest energy, I bet the basic technology could be adapted to a more home-friendly power source. Why not a stationary exercise-type bicycle?
Yes, this is real, as you said, Dave. Some students at Purdue a few years ago developed a tile floor that's being used in an airport to generate very tiny amounts of current. Every time someone steps on a tile and it bends, the system harvests some energy from the flexure of the floor. And, yes, it's real.
Yes, making the kids exercise to generate the electricity needed to power their electronic devices can also promote fitness (I say this tongue-in-cheek). Now every kid will be able to earn the Presidential Physical Fitness Award.
I like the bicycle idea. Along the same lines, my wife has a hand-cranked flashlight that uses. You never need to worry about batteries or solar charge, just crank the flashlight up any time you need it.
This is an obvious hoax. The device harvests rotational energy by interaction with a gyro which freely rotates inside the ball? What powers the gyro? 6 watts? How long can it output 6 watts? How long to purify a cup of water at room temperature with 6 watts? As for emergency light with energy harvesting, I have a LED flashlight with a crank generator that requires just a few turns to run for at least 15 minutes. Much more practical than playing soccer in the dark to recharge a ball, then plug in the light. It also is small enough to fit in a pocket or a desk drawer, not so with a soccer ball. As for this not being a hoax since it has been shown in the media already, since when can we assume that this does not mean it is a hoax?
At first, I figured this was going to be easy to make fun of...people who don't have electricity now have a means to charge their phones. ???
Practially, though, a means to sterilize water would have a huge impact on many people. For us with a limitless supply of safe water at our fingertips, it's had to imagine many people have no safe water or any means to make it safe. Being able to charge a Steri-pen or equivalent would be a leap forward.
Hi, Corona, yes, Uncharted Play seems to be thinking of things that could actually be worthwhile to people living in underdeveloped regions, but also of applications for people who already have access to electricity. I think this product could have broad appeal. But of course, helping providing access to electricity in areas where it's limited is certainly the focus at the moment.
Why not just use coconuts and a bicycle, like the professor did on Gilligan's Island?
Joking aside, a bicycle with a generator would be more efficient, and importantly more practical. Efficiency also exposes that energy conservation can not be overcome with fads. Just my humble opinion.
Now that is a good idea as well, the Designist. Uncharted Play came up with this idea because it is something fairly inexpensive and universal (nearly every country in the world plays soccer, and it really is a the main sport of the less-develped world). But bicycles also are very popular in similar regions, so you've hit on something. With all the progress being made in energy harvesting, perhaps that will be next. Thanks for your comment.
I was thinking of the bicycle generator as well, Designist. It seems to be a mode of transportation that is available even in some of the inaccessible areas and probably has the potential to produce a lot more energy.
I do, however, like the soccer ball idea. With multiple, removable batteries you could take care of some (very basic) needs. Since full charge seems to be attained after only 30 minutes, a few more batteries could easily be charged during an average set of play time.
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