Sometimes innovation is about making a simple connection.

The Soccket connects 1.3 billion people’s need for electricity and the popularity of soccer (or futbol) among children where that electricity is needed. What if the daytime energy of those children playing could be turned into light by which they could study at night?

Four engineering students at Harvard University made the connection and started a company called Uncharted Play.

The Soccket increases access to clean power in the places it’s needed most. The nonprofit ChildFund distributed hundreds of Soccket balls to children in Africa and Mexico,  where they are used instead of lanterns, which depend on fuels that pollute and harm families’ health.

President Obama playing with Soccket ball (AP Images)
President Obama plays with the Soccket Ball during an event at the Ubungo power plant in Tanzania. (AP Images)

When President Obama visited Tanzania in 2013, he gave the Soccket a try prior to his speech launching Power Africa,  a private sector–led initiative to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. The president — who played a lot of soccer in Indonesia as a child — kicked the Soccket and bounced it off his head, declaring it “pretty cool.”