Free energy is a fun idea to ponder. While Uncharted Play's Soccket (funding through March 28), an energy producing soccer ball, may not produce literally free energy, it still rings delightfully similar to that hypothetical idea.
The Soccket is Uncharted Play's method of bringing light into the lives of families without reliable, safe sources--especially to those people who enjoy kicking around a soccer ball on a regular basis. During the day, it functions much like a regular soccer ball, albeit one that is an ounce heavier than normal and immune to deflation. The sphere is a ethylene-vinyl acetate foam enclosure that houses a "pendulum-like mechanism" that converts kinetic energy into stored battery life. The team behind it claims that the ball can produce three hours of light, via the Soccket's simple LED lamp, for every 30 minutes of play--with a reputed capacity of 72 hours worth of energy.
The project has surpassed its $75,000 funding goal, but still had a way to go when this story was published for its reach goals of $100,000 (including an energy-tracking device so you can see how much power you generate) and $150,000 (offering an emergency cell phone charger that plugs into the Soccket). Should you choose to help, you can grab your own ball/lamp set for $99. A green version is available for $20 extra.
Uncharted Play is a recently founded group of ambitious do-gooders intent on finding fun solutions to social issues. Its founders are a pair of newly-minted Harvard graduates responsible for leading their team of eight to public recognition and support from such notables as Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and soccer star David Villa. Young and unproven but quickly turning important heads, these hungry folks appear ready to deliver on their promises.