Energy

SPARK Makes Electricity from Music

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Kenya is one of those poverty stricken nations that’s brimming with technology but has limited access to electricity. In fact, about 75% of the population has no access to electricity to light up lamps for a quick read, or to charge their mobile devices.

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Sudha Kheterpal – professional percussionist for the band Faithless went to the nation of Kenya to explore and be with the people. During her trip she discovered that music and dance was an integral part for the Kenyan people’s culture, and wondered if maybe all that energy from dancing could be harnessed as some sort of a usable power source.

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Those thoughts led to the creation of SPARK – a specialized percussion instrument that can harness the power of shaking into usable energy. It has a magnet, a copper coil, and a battery inside it, which, when shaken moves the magnet back-and-forth through the copper coil, creating an electric current by electromagnetic induction. It is the same basic mechanism that’s used by power plants to generate energy, just on a much smaller scale. The device has a chamber which can be filled with pebbles, coins, beads, or other small objects to produce varying sounds that can be incorporated into the dance routines of Kenyan communities.

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It takes 12 minutes of shaking to generate enough energy to light up a lamp or charge a mobile device for 1 hour. With the help of Sian Simpson, a designer from the Royal College of Art in the UK the first prototypes were created and have already been distributed. Now kids are using them to light up their homes at night, while also giving them more time to study and do their homework. And, if they run out of power they can recharge SPARK in a fun way by shaking it to a rhythm, or dancing with it.

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Visionaries + Movers

Sudha Kheterpal (founder) + Sian Simpson

Photos via: Shake Your Power