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    Wednesday, March 27, 2024

    Nigerian Engineer, Kemisola Bolarinwa Invents 'Smart Bra' to Diagnosis Breast Cancer

    A Nigerian lady known as Bolarinwa Kemisola created a secure and simple smart bra that can be used to detect cancer early.

    Nigerian robotics and embedded systems engineer, Kemisola Bolarinwa, has innovated a smart bra designed to detect early-stage breast cancer before symptoms manifest.

    From a very young age, Kemisola Bolarinwa has been an innovator. She still recalls the joy of her first eureka moment in high school when together with a friend, they created the transistor radio for the inter-school competition.

    “Watching that radio work ignited a passion in me; I knew from that day that I would be an inventor,” Bolarinwa remembered.

    In secondary school at St Helen’s Unity Secondary School, Ondo, she was an active member of the Junior Engineers, Technicians, and Scientists club (JETS). Coming from a girls’ school meant that Bolarinwa had to compete with boys from other schools. “I attended an all-girls school, and usually when we went for inter-school JETS club, the boys made it seem like girls were not intelligent enough, as if math and physics were created for boys alone or maybe they understood it more,” said Kemisola.

    These incidents called for a mind-shift—and for Bolarinwa, she always believed in her abilities and equal opportunities.

    After secondary school, Bolarinwa studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Ado-Ekiti; the Self-driven innovations are primarily self-taught.

    During this time, she became interested in robotic engineering despite the challenges involved. “There was a pattern for most women to give up in my engineering class when we started as freshmen, [the class] had 11 women, but there were only seven left before graduation,” Bolarinwa said.

    Today, the Nigerian-born woman is on the verge of creating her most significant innovation yet – a wearable smart bra for cancer screening and early detection. Bolarinwa’s interest in Cancer prevention and treatment was born from an emotional event.

    Bolarinwa unveiled her groundbreaking invention to the world in February 2022 by creating the prototype of the smart bra. The inspiration behind her innovation stemmed from the loss of a loved one in 2017.

    She mentioned that prior to her aunt’s passing, she didn’t give much thought to breast cancer. It was merely something she heard about on TV or radio.

    Bolarinwa, the founder and CEO of Nextwear Technologies, Nigeria’s pioneering wearable technology startup, expressed that her frequent visits to the hospital where her aunt was before her passing deeply inspired her to invent the smart bra.

    Witnessing other women enduring the struggles of breast cancer was a poignant experience for her, propelling her to redouble her efforts on the invention.

    Her groundbreaking creation garnered recognition from BBC Africa. Bolarinwa revealed that she dedicated a year and a half to intensive research before the smart bra prototype emerged in 2019.

    How breast cancer bra works

    To detect lumps in the breast, the smart bra ingeniously repurposes ultrasound technology into a compact form factor. The goal is to condense an ultrasound machine into a portable, wearable device.

    Bolarinwa attributes the success of this innovation to nanotechnology, a field encompassing science, technology, and engineering focused on manufacturing at a minuscule scale.

    For a more comprehensive understanding, the smart bra utilizes a specialized ultrasound system known as the Doppler. This system employs high-frequency sound waves to bounce off the body, detecting anomalies such as blood clots, heart defects, and blocked arteries. It operates distinctively from traditional ultrasound machines, which generate images of the scanned area using sound waves.

    Still on Smart Bra

    After years of dedicated research and prototype development, Bolarinwa disclosed that there is still significant work to be done before the breast cancer detection bra can be brought to the commercial market.

    Bolarinwa emphasized that the smart bra still requires further development and extensive clinical testing. She set a tentative timeframe between the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 for mass production to commence.

    Beyond her role as an inventor, Bolarinwa is a passionate advocate for encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), a cause close to her heart since childhood.

    Expressing her views, Bolarinwa stressed the importance of thorough research and development to ensure that inventions effectively address the problems they are designed for. She lamented the insufficient presence of research organizations to support such endeavors.

    She remarked, “In four months, a fintech platform will be built and ready for the market. This is one of the reasons why few people engage in the hardware or deep tech side of technology in Africa. There aren’t enough research institutes.”

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