Kemisola Bolarinwa may have restored hope in the gradual fight against breast cancer after developing a unique and rarely spectacular smart bra that assists in the early detection of the disease.
Kemisola Bolarinwa is a Nigerian innovator and scientist who has always had a keen interest in machines and the complexities of gadgets. Her first ever breakthrough can be tracked to an inter-school competition where she and her friend created a transistor radio. That feeling of satisfaction in building that device from scratch must have ignited her determination to be an inventor.
Bolarinwa was an active member of the Junior Engineers, Technicians, and Scientists club (JETS) during her time at St Helen’s Unity Secondary School, Ondo. Following her completion, she then opted to study Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Ado-Ekiti.
Amidst this time, she became massively interested in robotic engineering regardless of the challenges involved. And even though many women were discouraged to engage in that field, Kemisola Bolarinwa was determined to rearrange that perception. “I climbed buildings and ladders like the boys; if they could do that, why wouldn’t I; I was always asking them to allow me to do my things by myself,” she said in an interview.
In 2017, Bolarinwa lost one of her dearest aunts to breast cancer. During that ordeal trial of visiting her sickly aunt at the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital, she saw different women lying struck by breast cancer. Pity and sympathy immediately crept into her heart and since then, Kemisola Bolarinwa committed herself to find a solution to rid the menace of breast cancer.
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.
“Watching the women broke my heart, especially the young girls; the pain, helplessness, and resignation were too much for me. We all need to stop this disease that is causing so much suffering, not just for the sick, but all those around them, caregivers and even doctors,” Bolarinwa stated.
From a conversation with one of the doctors stationed at the hospital, Kemisola understood that 9 out of 10 women survive breast cancer if detected early.
Therefore, in 2019, Kemisola Bolarinwa started taking baby steps to her largest realization yet. Together with a femwear expert, an IT expert, an embedding hardware expert, an AI expert, a software developer, and a specialist in the treatment of cancer, the journey to find a solution to the late detection of breast cancer began.
Two years therefrom, Kemisola Bolarinwa and the team eventually came up with a working prototype of a smart bra that has sensors to scan the breast for abnormalities or irregularities.
The smart bra contains seven sensors properly placed across each bra cup, connected via cables to a USB output. The USB output connects the bra to a computer or mobile, where software accesses the data and inspects for oddities. A specialist can then be able to interpret these readings. According to Bolarinwa, the bra is still a prototype, with about 87 per cent accuracy.
“From the 15 women we have tested, three came out with abnormalities which we referred to the hospital for proper diagnosis,” she said.
Bolarinwa also stated that they have ordered more developed sensors that will boost the product’s accuracy to about 98 percent.
The smart bra is not meant to replace mammograms but rather assist those who cannot easily mammograms or get access to those machines often.
Bolarinwa needs to raise a tune of million dollars to expand her team and build out her production line. As it stands, Bolarinwa does not want to sell off the invention.
“I have had people abroad who want to buy off the smart bra technology to test breast cancer I invented; I AM NOT SELLING it, we are mass-producing from Nigeria for other countries to buy; for the first time, they should buy from Africa. Our product is for export,” she insisted.
Bolarinwa is also a staunch advocate for girls works to bridge the gender gap by encouraging and motivating girls and women to seek STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) – based education and employment opportunities.