by Nina Lee
What would happen if we thought of energy not as a resource to be saved up, but as a resource to be constantly created and used? Uncharted Play, the brainchild of Jessica O. Matthews, is a company that challenges the way our society values energy. Matthews is a Nigerian-American Harvard graduate, inventor, and CEO who was inspired to create alternative energy sources after an experience with her family in Nigeria. During her aunt’s wedding, there was a power outage- a very common occurrence- and diesel generators had to be used to supply energy. The generators were emitting toxic fumes that everybody but Matthews seemed to be used to. When she later returned to the United States and continued her education, she wanted to create a cleaner alternative to the energy sources her community in Nigeria were utilizing.
The first product that Uncharted Play launched was called the SOCCKET, a soccer ball that generates energy from the motion of the ball being kicked around and harnesses that energy using a micro-generator and a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Uncharted Play has also released the PULSE, a jump rope that utilizes the same concept as the SOCCKET, taking the rotational energy from each turn of the rope and using a micro-generator to charge a lithium ion battery.
While the company ended up experiencing some manufacturing difficulties, they ended up coming back stronger than ever and changed the trajectory of their mission. Instead of focusing on the quality of the products they were putting out, the company’s new objective is to instead perfect the M.O.R.E. (motion-based off-grid renewable energy) technology and partner with existing companies to install M.O.R.E. technology into their partner’s products. M.O.R.E. technologies can harness energy from modular rotational, linear compression, and triboelectric motions. That, in combination with specialized circuitry that gathers energy from various micro-generator systems, can power batteries, sensors, WiFi, and light. Matthews hopes to incorporate M.O.R.E. technology into more public, larger scale areas, such as parks, gyms, and subway turnstiles.