Jessica Matthews was born with the desire to create. As a child, she idolized Bill Nye the Science Guy, and says she "grew up wanting to be an inventor." It would only be a matter of time before she would invent the SOCCKET, a soccer ball that generates and stores kinetic energy, and is bringing electricity to people around the world.
The Harvard grad had her light-bulb moment in college when she was taking an engineering class that tasked her with creating a solution for a global issue. With over 1.3 billion people around the world living without access to electricity, Matthews had her cause.
She explains that those who don't have access to electricity often rely on kerosene lamps, which are extremely detrimental, especially to children. "Living with a kerosene lamp is like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day," she says. "Imagine sitting behind a car with the fumes coming out and just doing your homework."
The idea for the SOCCKET came about when Matthews and her classmates were kicking a soccer ball around during a brainstorming session. Then, she says, it clicked. "If you can generate power from a hand crank and from a bicycle and from anything that moves, then you should be able to generate power from a soccer ball."
She placed shake-to-charge flashlights in a hamster ball before kicking it around for a while. When she took the flashlights out, they lit up and the model for the SOCCKET was born. Inside the soccer ball is a pendulum, a battery and a plug. As the ball rolls, it turns the pendulum, which generates the power for the battery. The battery stores the power, and families can plug small lamps or other devices right into the ball and retrieve power.
Since 175 SOCCKETs were distributed through Fundacion Televisa in Oaxaca, Mexico last November, beneficiaries reported a 40 percent decrease in candle use. Matthews is passionate about her project, and intends on pushing forward to help more people around the world gain access to clean electricity. She adds, "It's about bringing power to people who don't have reliable access to it, who don't have it in any shape or form, in a healthy way, in an eco-friendly way, and in a fun way."