Thursday, January 5, 2017

Oh, patents! Energy-generating soccer ball

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Someone – incidentally a female Harvard graduate hailing from Nigeria – is making waves producing energy-generating soccer balls to democratize access to energy.

Her name is Jessica Matthews and her company is aptly called Uncharted Play. Jessica Matthews was just 19 years old and enrolled in a class, when she invented SOCCKET, the soccer ball that generates off-the-grid clean energy, using the kinetic energy of play and happiness! An invention that has since then also led to light producing jump ropes!

If you are ever panning for gold on the Internet, then Jessica Mathews' company,  Uncharted Play , is also a gem. Uncharted Play produces:

“energy-generating play products that power and empower communities worldwide”

and in this capacity is also a full-fledged participant in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to end poverty by 2030. Additionally, Uncharted Play  sponsors a US Department of Education STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum to uplift 1 million social inventors by 2020. 

The patent application filed for the energy producing soccer-ball is US2013023365 titled Energy storing device and method of using the same. The invention disclosed in the patent application comprises an energy-generating module, inserted within a soccer ball. The energy-generating module comprises a pendulum, which produces energy when it swings, and thus charges the energy-generating module using the kinetic energy of play. The energy generating module is coupled to a battery which then stores the captured swinging pendulum energy for use after playing. 

The document further discloses that the invention arises in a context of 1.5 billion people without electricity in the world, a portion of whom have to rely on kerosene-burning energy. Kerosene-burning energy compounds the problems of the absence of energy with noxious and toxic fumes. Kerosene is also a very expensive source of energy, estimated to use up to 30% of a household budget.

Finally, the absence of energy, mainly in the Third World, is disclosed as a factor that significantly stunts possible mobile app-based developments, which depend on the use of electricity. Consequently, this invention primarily arises in a problematic socio-economic context of poverty, exacerbated by the absence of energy.

The Abstract for US2013023365 titled Energy storing device and method of using the same is included below with the Figure 1 drawing extracted from the disclosure. An image of the commercially available product "in-action" is included above. 

A ball includes a shell defining a spheroid. The shell includes an opening and a panel to close the opening. The panel has a sleeve that extends radially inward. A generation module is disposed in a cavity defined by the shell. The generation module includes a housing. A pendulum, an electric generator, and a battery are disposed in the housing. The pendulum is mechanically coupled to a rotor of the electric generator at a first axis of rotation of the pendulum and the electric generator is electrically coupled to the battery. An acceleration of the ball causes the pendulum to rotate about the first axis of rotation. The rotation of the pendulum rotates the rotor of the electric generator. The rotation of the rotor of the electric generator generates electricity, and at least a portion of the generated electricity is stored by the battery. [Abstract US2013023365]

Uncharted Play
STEM – US Dept. of Education

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