Soccer Play with an Illuminating Goalclose
According to the World Bank, 1.4 billion people across the globe lack access to electricity.
This means that at least a fifth of the world’s population relies on solid fuels like highly flammable kerosene for such basic needs as cooking and heating—a practice that is neither environmentally nor economically sustainable, and is also harmful to the millions of women and children that are exposed to dangerous fumes.
Now imagine this: a portable, energy-generating device that’s also a familiar, ubiquitous piece of sporting equipment. That’s the illuminating idea behind the sOccket, a perfectly functioning soccer ball that also has the ability to capture and store kinetic energy which can provide energy to power electrical appliances like LED lamps, water sterilization devices, and mini refrigerators. Just 30 minutes of soccer play with the sOccket can light up an LED lamp for three hours.
Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman, the inventors of sOccket, were recently honored at the 2012 Women in the World summit, co-sponsored by Toyota and hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast Editor-In-Chief Tina Brown. Toyota awarded the sOccket inventors one of three $50,000 grants donated to women chosen as “Mothers of Invention” for the inspiration and creativity they’ve demonstrated in tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems. Former classmates who developed their idea while taking an engineering class aimed at “making science more artistic and art more scientific,” Matthews and Silverman used their Mother of Invention grant from Toyota to finish the final version of the sOccket, set up a U.S.-based factory, and increase distribution of the device to children in the developing world.
Continuous improvement—or “Kaizen”—is the philosophy at the heart of Toyota; and as a simple yet revolutionary answer to a pressing global challenge, the sOccket represents an embodiment of that spirit. The device could allow for millions of kids around the world to do what they love—play soccer in their own communities—while providing their homes with enough light by which to read, do homework, and give their families healthier lifestyles and new opportunities.
“The funds that we received from Toyota were almost 100 percent used toward the tooling of production of sOccket,” said Matthews. “When we were awarded the grant, we realized that we weren’t done. At Mothers of Invention we had a roomful of people that day who said, ‘You’re not done; keep going!’ So now we feel that we have a lot of people who believe in us and who have invested in us in many different ways and we are doing everything we can to show them that they were right.”
The sOccket, an example of sustainable invention that is as playful as it is innovative, gives new meaning to achievable “gooooooooals!”