Ex-Faithless percussionist, Sudha Kheterpal, is taking on the energy revolution. Her goal: bringing clean, green energy to off-grid areas, through the power of music.
A veteran musician, Sudha performed with electronic band Faithless for 15 years. She has experienced first-hand the raw energy of the crowd, and its sheer power is an inspiration. Her thoughts have now turned to the far reaches of the world, where communities struggle against a rising need for energy.
More than three quarters of Kenyans lack access to mains electricity, keeping residents in the dark in more ways than one. Without lights, school-children must complete homework by dusk, or risk falling behind their peers. The only alternative is to use expensive and dangerous kerosene lamps to light up their books.
In a bid to change this, Sudha has created a novel musical instrument, called SPARK. The hand-held shaker turns musical motion into usable, electrical power.
Patent pending SPARK is a specially designed percussive instrument. Split in two, each half of the instrument’s shell is filled with beads. Down the centre lies a magnet, tucked inside a coil of copper wire. As you shake SPARK, the magnet moves back and forth inside the wire coil, producing a current. This current then charges a small, rechargeable battery hidden inside the shaker.
On the outside of the shaker a conventional USB port can power a plug-in light , or charge a mobile telephone. In rural Kenya, young girls are often at risk of attack on dangerous streets after dark. SPARK provides a welcome safety net, it’s rechargeable light guiding them home from school. In the more rural areas of Kenya, communities are cut off from towns and cities by distance. SPARK’s phone charging port means remote villages can stay in touch with shops, medical help and even banking services.
“SPARK can generate an hour of light after playing for 12 minutes,” Sudha said. “That’s just 3 songs, for example. With custom designed firmware and a dual harnessing capability, SPARK can charge up a mobile phone in under 2 hours.”
As well as providing an essential power source to some 1.2 billion people, the shakers are already fitting into science classes around the world. The organisation raised over £50,000 from more than 900 individual people using the crowdfunding platform ‘Kickstarter’. This money allowed the team to develop educational assembly kits so students could apply science, technology and engineering skills to make their own power.
“Our SPARK educational assembly kits aim to inspire the next generation by bringing core subjects to life; to create sparks in their imagination and to educate around STEM subjects. Through assembling the kit, children learn about electronics, electricity, engineering, design & the innovation process. They learn about music and craft, as well as gaining awareness around climate change issues and taking responsibility for their energy consumption.”
The #ShakeYourPower movement is a step in the right direction for the energy revolution. This tiny shaker captures the creativity of both designer and music-maker, generating clean energy and bringing a little light to the darkness.
SPARK won the London Design Awards 2014 for Best Product Design for personal use. The SPARK educational assembly kit won The London Design Awards 2015 for Best Product Design for Education.
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