Developed in Nigeria, a new smart bra device has emerged with the ability to detect cancer early, with its inventor claiming it can potentially save African women long journeys to access screening devices.
This device was developed using ultrasound technology, and is chargeable and battery operated so it can be used more than once. It even has its own mobile and web apps that can display where a tumour is on the breasts, and whether it is harmless or dangerous. It has to be worn for a maximum of 30 minutes for the results to show, and the app even has an interface for the results to be transmitted to a doctor.
The inventor of this miracle device, robotics engineer and founder of Nextwear Technology, a wearable technology company based in Nigeria, Kemisola Bolarinwa, hopes it will help play a part in addressing the barriers to early detection of the disease.
“My beloved aunt died of breast cancer in 2017 at the University College Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria because it was diagnosed late,” she explains. “In her ward at the hospital, I saw women of different age groups, even teenagers, groaning in the pain of breast cancer. That was when I felt I needed to contribute my part to fight the disease.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the sub-Saharan parts of Africa. 129000 new cases have been diagnosed in 2020, and only half of the women live for more than five years after the diagnosis.
Bolarinwa hopes that the device will be ready to market in July of this year, having worked on the design since 2018 and came up with the first prototype in 2020. “We have conducted a local trial and got about 70 per cent accuracy. We are working towards 95-97 per cent accuracy.”
She also mentions her team will consider affordability when the device is produced for the market, they face challenges due to delays getting raw material shipped from overseas and lack of funding.
This project is funded with the revenue of their very first product, a global positioning system (GPS) necklace device that alerts the wearer’s family and friends, to combat insecurity in Nigeria.