Musical shaker could light the way home for African school kids

A new Kickstarter project goes where others like the Soccket Ball, the nPower Peg battery charger and others have gone before it by tapping the kinetic energy involved in human actions like walking, playing sports, or in this case, playing music.

The Spark, created by Sudha Kheterpal -- a UK-based percussionist, is a percussive shaker that converts the energy from playing it into electricity. The Spark contains a magnet that moves backwards and forwards through the centre of a solenoid, a coil of copper wire, when it is shaken. A current is induced in the loops of wire and each time the magnet slides through, it charges up a rechargeable battery.

The battery can then be used to power LED flashlights or lanterns for about an hour so that school kids can have light to walk home by or do homework in the evenings and women and young girls can safely walk at night.

© Sudha Kheterpal

Kheterpal says on the Kickstarter page, "In places like Kenya, where 75% of the population live without access to electricity, having the ability to read at night or charge up a mobile phone gives people the chance of a better education and also access to services like the revolutionary mobile phone banking system, M-PESA."

The Spark has been successfully tested in Kenya by children, teachers and village elders. It has two more days to go on Kickstarter where it is still a few thousand shy of it's goal.

Technologies like these may only be able to supply a small amount of electricity, but they can still improve lives. The Spark project wants to ultimately improve the output of the devices to be able to quickly charge cell phones and provide longer periods of light for families without electricity.

Tags: Africa | Gadgets | Human-Powered | Music | Technology