Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Over twenty million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 alone. Most breast cancer cases are diagnosed or detected late. And this stark fact is what motivated tech innovator Kemisola Bolarinwa.
Kemisola Bolarinwa lost her aunt to breast cancer in 2017. Her aunt suffered symptoms but it was only after a proper diagnosis was conducted that it was determined that that cancer had become metastatic.
Kemisola recalled how daunting it was for her family during her aunt’s treatment. She added her surprise at discovering the number of women, mostly young, who were undergoing chemotherapy in the same cancer ward as her aunt at the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital.
“It was a horrible experience for me. At one point, I could not stop thinking of how susceptible I was to breast cancer. It felt like a threat,” she says. This notion inspired Kemisola to find a solution.
With a Bachelors in Engineering, Kemisola started creating wearable technology to help solve critical issues. I’m 2019, she produced tech solutions geared towards security and health issues. Kemisola formed Nigeria’s first wearable technology company – Nextwear technology. Nextwear technology is a hardware embedding company that designs and develops technology worn close to the body by embedding programmable electronics and sensors on clothing to solve health issues, insecurity, communication, and augment fashion.
It was then that Kemisola invented the SmartBra.
The Smart Bra is designed with ultrasound technology. It works with a mobile application, which takes the result and translates it to a language a layperson can understand. “It is just like checking your blood pressure. You are not to wear it like a regular bra. A woman puts it on for 20 to 30 minutes and checks her status. After the device takes the readings, it sends the result to the mobile app where she can access it,” Kemisola explains.
This innovation gives women a better chance at detecting cancer in their breasts before it can exacerbate. Kemisola has stated that the SmartBra has not come without its challenges. Access to materials and funding to scale production have proven difficult..
Nonetheless, Kemisola and her team from Nextwear is undeterred. She aims to produce the SmartBra at cost that would be affordable to women living in rural areas, as she believes they are more susceptible considering they are less likely to go for breast screening.
An advocate for women in STEM, Kemisola Bolarinwa is making impact by offering classes and lectures to schools as well.