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5 comments

The (Real) Electric Soccer Ball.

Posted March 07, 2012 1:15 PM by HUSH

Soccer, football, association football, fĂștbol. Considering the same game is played by over 250 million people in 200 countries, it's truly a case of "a rose by any other name."

International soccer culminates at the World Cup, held every four years and most recently in 2010, hosted by South Africa. For one month, the world stopped at the sight of an Adidas soccer ball. And also rioted at the sound of the vuvuzela. And also listened to pop musician Shakira do her best "Fozzy Bear" impression.

Between the song, the crowd, the games, and the international participation, the World Cup is nothing short of electric.

But, there is a new part of the football game that is getting some energy: the ball. And I don't mean in the figurative sense.

Introducing the "sOccket."

...via PM

This typical looking soccer ball actually has a small electric alternator in it. Original designs had an inductive coil mechanism, which is the charging method for a shake-to-charge flashlight. More recent designs incorporate a gyroscope mechanism, which allows the ball to capture energy with any movement. Its operational range is 2.71 to 3.61 volts, but can generate as much as 24 volts.

sOccket co-creator Jessice Matthews offers an in-depth look at the prototypes design.

The ball is very durable, and is pretty close to the official weight of a size 5 soccer ball. The ball can store 3 hours of LED lighting with 30 minutes of play, and can even run a water purifier.

...via sOccket

While this seems impractical for developed, western nations, soccer's popularity isn't limited to those who can just watch games on TV. Many people in poor, aboriginal villages throughout Africa, South and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia enjoy a casual game of soccer, but it's more likely to be a version of kick the can or kick the knotted plastic bags. It's also these areas that have limited access to electricity and clean water.

Unfortunately though, the sOccket's business model relies strictly on charity for its distribution, so the folks at sOccket are going to depend on philanthropies and good-willed corporations to distribute these soccer balls to needy areas. Credit giant American Express is among the first to jump on this truly brilliant idea (and they sponsored a really cool commercial to tell you all about it, of course).

The hope is to eventually begin a buy-one, give-one program, so individuals have incentive to purchase the ball.

The ball's energy generating technology is expected to last a few years, while the ball itself is expected to last much longer as the sOccket isn't made of typical latex and rubber, but rather weather-resistant foam. What the creators hope for most of all is to inspire youths in rural areas to educate themselves so they can contribute with other innovations. If even a fractional number of young, poor soccer players are inspired by this product, then the sOccket's true benefits are immeasurable. Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, said "It's quite extraordinary really. Kick a ball, turn on a light. It's an off-grid solution."

Though Billy really doesn't know anything about soccer. Just cheap, sustainable energy. And burgers. And jazz. And, well, you see where I'm going......via ISI Photos

Not convinced that this will catch on? Two countries where the sOcckets implementation will surely transform life-- El Salvador and Honduras--went to war in 1969, fueled by a World Cup soccer game. I think that speaks for itself.

I agree that this idea is incredible. Do I expect it to be more than a blip on most North American's radars? No. Let's face it: soccer will never have the marketing of American football. (Or, if you're Canadian, the beer.)

But it is fun to watch David Beckham and Reggie Bush duke it out over their respective sports.

Resources

Popular Mechanics - sOccket

sOccket.com

Discovery News - sOccket

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#1

Re: The (Real) Electric Soccer Ball.

03/07/2012 11:06 PM

Great story. Good side bars to click on. Good idea and congrats to the girls.The only thing I didn't catch was how do you donate or purchase? I know many of the local clubs that would purchase such balls for a good cause. Soccer is easy to sell and I have spent a lot of time helping to organize and manage elite teams. If I can help or know the contact, maybe we can get the "ball" rolling.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: The (Real) Electric Soccer Ball.

03/08/2012 8:26 AM

Their website's donation page is here: http://www.soccket.com/donate/

I'm sure they'd be delighted to know they've caught the eye of legitimate teams up here. Apparently two of the ladies are on CBS TV News in the States this morning, so I get the impression this is going to blow up.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: The (Real) Electric Soccer Ball.

03/09/2012 8:07 AM

I still don't understand how the energy gets from the ball to a light bulb. Surely the ball won't be trailing a cord all over the soccer field? That might tend to impede play. And I didn't see any mention of batteries in the ball to store energy until it could be connected to a load. Anyone else understand this? Please explain?

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: The (Real) Electric Soccer Ball.

03/09/2012 11:36 AM

I'm debating how much snark I want to include here, but I don't want to add any cynicism.

There is a separate cord to connect to the balls power reserve, which is a a lightweight battery within. I also don't suspect many of these balls will be played on a legit field anyhow. Click the link above that goes over the prototype's design.

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#4

Re: The (Real) Electric Soccer Ball.

03/09/2012 9:42 AM

It would be hard to compete with the solar lights I can get at the dollar store. Truely impractical.. someone is trying to make a buck on something that just won't sell in stores.. IMO

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