NEW YORK, New York – Praised by President Bill Clinton, The Boston Globe, Ted, and numerous other sources, Soccket’s revolutionary technology harnesses the power of play for social good. Soccket, a soccer ball that stores kinetic energy through an internal, pendulum-like mechanism, can be used as a portable power source in resource-poor areas.
In May 2011, Harvard social science graduates Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman founded Uncharted Play, a New York-based social enterprise dedicated to improving lives through play. They began creating Uncharted Play’s first product – the Soccket – in 2008 as a class project, but continued to develop the product after graduation.
Armed with the knowledge that ¼ of the world’s population lives without access to reliable electricity, Matthews, Silverman, and two other Harvard peers began brainstorming solutions to this fundamental issue of electricity shortage. In visiting locations that would benefit from their innovation, the team noticed the prevalence of the world’s most popular sport, especially in developing nations. They found that kids were using garbage, rocks, plastic bags or anything that could be used as a makeshift ball to play the game of soccer.
Combining these two pieces of knowledge, the team built a prototype for Soccket in 2009, then a second in 2010, after experimenting with various energy storing techniques. In 2011, their project caught the eye of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and began to grow in notoriety.
Soccket’s current prototype is made from water-resistant EVA foam that is soft and durable. The product does not require inflation over its lifespan of several years, and is virtually deflation-proof. Weighing 17 ounces – one ounce heavier than a standard soccer ball – the Soccket is airless, made from 95% recycled parts and is assembled in the United States. The Soccket is equipped with a pendulum-like mechanism that powers a six-watt generator, or the equivalent of four AA batteries.
Each Soccket comes with an LED lamp that can be plugged into the ball through a headphone-style jack. Uncharted Play claims that thirty minutes of play with the current Soccket model generates around three hours of light from the attachable lamp.
So far, the Soccket is being used in South Africa, Tanzania, Latin America, and other resource poor communities around the world. Their unique business model allows Uncharted Play to maintain financial stability while pursuing their social mission. Currently, the cost of Socckets are being underwritten by corporations and public institutions through wholesale ball purchases. By requiring children in disadvantaged communities to “earn” a Soccket by participating in the programming of Uncharted Play’s local, best-practice partner NGOs, the organization can ensure that they are affecting the local community in a multifaceted manner.
Uncharted Play also intends to have the Soccket available for retail sale in North America and Europe, modeled after the “buy one, give one” concept. You can pre-order your Soccket and look out for new developments by Uncharted Play here.