A smart bra device developed in Nigeria can detect breast cancer early, potentially saving African women long journeys to access screening services, its inventor says.Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 129,000 new cases diagnosed in 2020. Only around half of women here live for more than five years after being diagnosed, with late diagnosis a major factor, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).Robotics engineer Kemisola Bolarinwa, who developed the smart bra, hopes it will be instrumental in addressing the barriers to early detection of the disease.
The inventor hopes the device will be ready to market in July this year, after a four-year journey. The engineer and her team started work on the design in 2018 and by February 2020 had come up with their first prototype. Since then, the company has developed ten more, she says. The smart bra was developed using ultrasound technology, she explains, and the chargeable, battery-operated device comes with mobile and web apps that can display where a tumour is on the breasts. Bolarinwa says it is her dream to see many African women saved from breast cancer, adding that her invention could save the stress of women travelling long distances to cities for cancer screening.
The invention, she says, has received the approval of Nigeria’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the Communications Commission. Bolarinwa says her team will consider affordability when the smart bra is finally produced for the market, but delays in getting raw materials shipped from overseas and a lack of funding have been a challenge.The project is funded with revenue from the company’s first-ever product, a global positioning system (GPS) necklace device that alerts wearers’ families and friends of their movements, to help navigate insecurity in Nigeria.