Nigeria’s Female Engineer Invents Bra That Detects Cancer

Nigeria's Female Engineer Invents Bra That Detects Cancer
Nigeria's Female Engineer Invents Bra That Detects Cancer

Nigerian robotics and embedded systems engineer, Kemisola Bolarinwa, has invented a smart bra capable of diagnosing early-stages breast cancer before symptoms develop.


Bolarinwa made the invention known to the world in February 2022, by designing the prototype of the smart bra. It was spurred by the death of her loved one in 2017.


She said before the death of her aunt, she rarely paid any attention to breast cancer. This was because it was just something she heard on the TV or radio.


Bolarinwa is the founder and chief executive officer of Nextwear Technologies, the first wearable technology startup in Nigeria.


She said she was moved to invent the smart bra, after frequent visits to the hospital where her aunt was before she died.


According to her, seeing other women battling breast cancer was painful. She then intensified efforts on the invention.


Her invention was recognised by BBC Africa. She spent a year and a half of intense research, before the smart bra came up in 2019, Bolarinwa added.

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How breast cancer bra works

To detect lumps in the breast, the smart bra repurposes ultrasound technology into a small form factor.


The initiative is to shrink down an ultrasound machine to a portable size where it becomes wearable.


According to Bolarinwa, this was possible with nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is a branch of science, technology, and engineering that deals with the manufacturing of tech in small sizes.


For more context, the smart bra uses an ultrasound system called the Doppler that bounces high-frequency sound waves off the body to detect blood clots, heart defects, and blocked arteries. This works differently from ultrasound machines that use sound waves to generate images of the scanned area.


More work on smart bra

After years of research and developing a prototype, she revealed there is still a lot of work before the breast cancer bra can be commercialised.

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Bolarinwa said the smart bra still needs further development and extensive clinical. She gave a time frame between the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 for mass production.


Aside from being an inventor, Bolarinwa is also a strong advocate for getting more women interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), something she was passionate about growing up.


Bolarinwa called for more work on research for inventions to be effective in solving the problems they are designed for. Also, she lamented that there are not adequate research organisations to help.


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

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Who she is

Bolarinwa holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering from the University of Ado-Ekiti (now Ekiti State University).


She has more than 10 years of experience, exceptional tech skills and strong problem-solving skills. She is passionate about solving complex problems and staying up-to-date with the latest technologies.


Bolarinwa is an inventor, innovator, entrepreneur, and president of the Women In ICT Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing technology education, leadership, and businesses for women and young girls to resolve problems of the under-representation of women in leadership, policy-making, and math-intensive fields of science and technology.


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Nigeria is endowed with exceptional and skilled inventors such as the 70-year-old man who developed more than inventions, but the challenge they are faced with is the lack of support from the government and other recognised agencies or entrepreneurs to sponsor their research and inventions.


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