When we last saw the sOccket, the revolutionary new soccer ball was making headlines for its ability to turn kinetic energy into power, garnering praise from Popular Mechanics and the Clinton Global Iniative alike.
A year later, it's clear that Uncharted Play, the company started by co-inventors (and Harvard classmates) Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman, isn't ready to rest on its laurels.
"It's not like us to say oh, we have the most perfect product, let's sit back and watch the world be a better place," said Matthews to TakePart. "We're more about getting this ball out to as many people as possible."
We caught up with Matthews fresh off the heels of Uncharted Play's release party last week, which introduced the latest version of the sOccket along with the company's newest forays into dual-functioning toys.
So what's changed? First, the cost. The original sOccket ranged anywhere between $200 and $1000 a pop, depending on if it was made in the U.S. or South Africa. The latest version? A much more manageable $50 per unit.
The new and improved sOccket. (Photo: unchartedplay.com)
Best of all, the balls themselves are better—a lot better. While the first prototype shorted out after about a month, these can endure between 5 to 15 years of use. Not only that, the average power output is about 1000 percent what you could generate on the older version.
"It's a step forward for us," said Matthews, "away from prototype and building them by hand towards something like mass production where we'll actually be building out machines to make these balls."
In addition to the revamped sOccket, Matthews also unveiled several prototypes of the next generation of Uncharted Play's "dual-functioning" products, including a basketball and pogostick.
"We're hoping to go to any place in this world where we feel the balls could be useful, whether in a literal functional manner or an inspirational or educational manner," said Matthews.
"It's all about the funding to get there, so if there are any corporate sponsors that want us to bring balls to Chicago or Antarctica or anywhere, we're open."
As for the experience of seeing the balls in action? Matthews, who routinely takes the balls back to her native Nigeria for testing, artfully dodged the sentimental.
"It's just kinda like going home and then playing with a ball," said Matthews, laughing. "Nothing too crazy."
"For us, it's more about trying to give people who really need this ball—people who don't have access to reliable power—hope," she said. "Changing the way they view the world, making them believe in the magic of what's possible. It's really cool."
To learn more about the sOccket, check out the site here.
And check out sOccket's Facebook page here.