Goal! Electric soccer balls tap the energy of the World Cup game

Four entrepreneurial women from Harvard University hope to harness the energy of the world's favorite sport to bring power the world's poor.

In honor of today's 2010 FIFA World Cup kick off in South Africa, I bring you sOccket (soccer + socket).

This soccer ball captures the energy of the game to generate electricity for its athletes, many of whom worldwide play and live off the grid.

An inductive coil within the ball produces electricity through kinetic energy. The mechanism is akin to that used in flashlights that become recharged by shaking them back and forth. A 15-minute match of kicking, dribbling, juggling and heading could harvest enough energy to power an LED for three hours.

Four engineering students at Harvard hatched the idea a couple of  years ago. Since then, they've tested a prototype with children in Durban and partnered with WhizzKids United, a South African group using soccer as a means to educate young people about HIV/AIDS.

Possibly a little heavier than the standard 16 ounces, the ball is, no surprise, not regulation.

Still, according to its developers, sOccket (manufactured by Cape Town design company Dot Dot Dot Ex Why Zed) performs similarly to a traditional ball on the football pitch.

Off the field, children (and adults) could use sOccket to power a cell phone or an LED light, perhaps to do their homework by. The soccer ball would be a safer, healthier (and more fun) source of light than one typical alternative, kerosene lanterns. The World Bank likens breathing kerosene fumes indoors to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

Salvatori Cordoni of TakePart quotes one of the ball's creators Jessica Lin:

sOccket may not be a solution to the energy crisis. But it is a new way of thinking about problems many people face on a day to day basis…and it enables empowerment, for children to literally power their own lives.

Although sOccket will not be played during any of the World Cup games, this ball with a boost will make its debut during the month-long festivities. Which reminds me...U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

I always root for the underdog.

Images: Jessica Lin, Whizzkids United
: inhabitatots

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Show Comments