A Switched-On Idea: Soccket™ and the Future of Play-and-Plug Technology

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 13.15.53As noted in our blog post of 11th October 2013 (Power to the People: 2013 World Energy Congress Kicks-Off!), the twenty-second World Energy Congress kicks-off today in Daegu, South Korea – and given the subject of today’s post, there scarcely appears to be a better metaphor for the commencement of the conference. Last night, our Creative Director and CSO came across one of the most ingenious ideas yet for energy provision: the Soccket™ ball (‘Soccket’).

Manufactured by Uncharted Play - a company headed up by Nigeria-born, Harvard University-educated Jessica O. Matthews - Soccket is a football that utilises the kinetic energy from being kicked around and turns this into electricity. It has an inbuilt power outlet into which devices can be plugged in, but despite the presence of this potentially unwieldy internal mechanism, the ball seems to play perfectly acceptably. Crucially, Soccket is efficient: thirty minutes of play is enough to generate three hours of power for a simple LED lamp.

The potential importance of this invention cannot be overstated:

1. Cheap, Off-Grid Electricity. In large parts of the world (including soccer-obsessive Africa, a clear target market for Uncharted Play), access to a reliable electricity grid is still patchy-to-non-existent. Vital evening activities – such as studying and cooking, to take but two examples – can only be powered via expensive and highly polluting generators. Soccket may not yet be the entire solution to this issue, but it is a phenomenal beginning.

2. Rethinking Efficiency. The team at Uncharted Play are not just reconceptualising power generation and storage, but also how electric devices can become better at using energy: coming soon from the same company is a Soccket-powered hybrid flashlight and tabletop lamp which derives one hour of power from a mere twenty-five seconds of play, enabling a multitude of these light sources to be charged from a single ball.

3. Rethinking the Corporation. Soccket shows (in much the same manner of Google Science Fair luminary Elif Bilgin) that dynamism, openness to new ideas and a genuine sense of mission (as opposed to a mere mission statement) can open up scarcely dreamt-of possibilities, while exposing far too many longstanding companies – including many household names – as complicit in a web of mediocrity. Amazingly, co-founders Matthews and Julia Silverman were both social sciences undergraduates at Harvard with precisely zero experience in engineering when Uncharted Play was born.

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1 Comment

Filed under Business, Creativity, Economic Development, Football, Technology

One response to “A Switched-On Idea: Soccket™ and the Future of Play-and-Plug Technology

  1. Completely agree with your point 3. We need an ideas-based culture. That does not only include scientific/technical innovation, but also developing new economic understandings of implementing technologies. We need to also see how to extend knowledge and related economic infrastructure to everyone. The internet is an amazing development in knowledge resources, but which many countries do not know how to exploit. Crowd-funding, microentrepreneurship etc need to be adopted as new models wherever possible. I believe 3D printing could bring revolutionary benefits to countries with limited infrastructure as it allows a new mode of micro-production. Let’s see….

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