Fun fact: the term "kick-start" comes from vintage motorcycles, for which the rider had to kick a ratcheting lever in order to start the engine. According to Wikipedia, "Kick start mechanisms were almost universally a part of motorcycle engines before the mid-1970s, and were phased out of production over the next twenty years or so as electric starters became standard equipment." Skip ahead another decade and the term has been revived as a shorthand for crowdfunding.
Of course, Uncharted Play's "Soccket" has more in common with the electric starter than the mechanical one. It has more or less the same specs as a standard soccer ball (and is intended to be used as such), but it also features an internal mechanism to capture the kinetic energy generated by kicking it around.The SOCCKET is a durable, energy-harnessing soccer ball. Using Uncharted Play's patent pending technology, the pendulum-like mechanism inside the SOCCKET captures the kinetic energy generated during normal play, and stores it in the ball for later use as an off-grid power source. Just 30 minutes of play can power a simple LED lamp for 3 hours.
It's certainly a clever solution for developing countries, a high-low-tech gadget that hits a sweet spot for feasible social impact—the New York-based team has spent over three years working with NGOs to perfect the project—but I can't help but wonder about its efficiency. I know that hub dynamos, for example, require a bit of extra legwork (pun intended) on the part of cyclists, and pedal-powered generators may not be a practical solution (at least for the time being).
Not that this speculation detracts from the Soccket's appeal or impact in the least. To mix the metaphor again, Uncharted Play is in the home stretch (as in horse racing) for the campaign, with just 16 hours to go. They've surpassed their $75,000 goal by about 20% as of press time, which puts them at $10K short of their Stretch Goal; find out more on their Kickstarter page.