Smart football 'sOccket' to charge batteries in developing countries

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Washington, Feb 19 (ANI): Scientists have developed a smart football called 'sOccket', which captures and stores energy during normal game play to be used to later charge batteries and LEDs (light emitting diodes) in developing countries.

Co-creator Jessica Lin told Discovery News that the idea for sOccket grew out of a group project for an undergrad engineering class at Harvard.

She and the rest of her team all had experience in the developing world, and they realized two things.

First, kids are playing soccer all the time in many parts of the world, be it with a ball, a tin can, whatever, and second, the vast majority of those kids have homes with no reliable electricity.

Light sources, if they exist at all, are often provided by unhealthy sources such as wood fires or kerosene lamps.

"There were stories we would hear of children going out to the street and studying underneath street lamps, or literally coming to school with blackened noses because they'd been studying near kerosene lamps," said Lin.So, the idea for the sOccket was born.

The first prototype used an inductive coil mechanism to store energy.

Lin said it works on more or less the same principal as one of those "shake to charge" flashlights, "where a magnet rolls through a coil creating an electric charge."

They then took the sOccket out for field testing, literally, in South Africa and Kenya. They let the kids kick it around, and give feedback.

Lin and the sOccket team found that 15 minutes of game play could power the onboard LED for three hours.

According to Lin, the kids gave the team great ideas for sOccket 2.0, including one kid who told them they should put solar panels on the ball.

The team is now looking at better mechanisms for storing even more energy during game play.

They say they hope to have a second prototype ready for testing by the time the World Cup starts in South Africa in June. (ANI)

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