Iconic Women

Kemisola Bolarinwa, the Brain Behind the Cancer-Detecting Smart Bra

By Aisha Kabiru Mohammed | Jul 13, 2022

CEO of Next Wear Technology and community lead at the Global AI hub, Kemisola Bolarinwa is commonly known as the inventor of Smartbra, a bra used to detect cancer.

From a young age, Kemisola showed an interest in inventions.  Bellanaija reports that In secondary school at St Helen’s Unity Secondary School, Ondo, she was an active member of the Junior Engineers, Technicians, and Scientists club (JETS). 

Coming from a girls’ school meant Kemisola had to compete with boys from other schools. She created a transistor radio with her friends for one of those competitions. She recalls the joy of her first eureka! moment in high school in the article. These events shaped her and convinced her to pursue her passion for innovation. 

After secondary school, Kemisola studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Ado-Ekiti. During this time, she became interested in robotic engineering even though, at that time, there was a pattern for most women to give up. There were only 11 women in her class as freshmen, and by the time she graduated, she was one of the seven women left in the class. 

The next step in her path to becoming the innovator that she is today was joining Baun Robotics where she started her journey into the world of computing language and programming, all thanks to the support of her boss.

 

The Making of the Smartbra

 

In 2017, Kemisola lost one of her favorite aunts to breast cancer. She was unable to detect the symptoms early enough to treat it. While visiting her aunt at the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital. She saw several women lying in pain. She was motivated to create a solution to the disease that killed her aunt and caused the many women she had seen pain. She asked the doctor what could be done to prevent the cancer from spreading.

During the conversation with the doctor, Kemisola learned that 9 out of 10 women survive breast cancer with early detection. At that point, she found her next challenge and she decided to create a device that would help with early detection of breast cancer.

In 2019, she teamed up with a femwear expert, an IT expert, an embedding hardware expert, an AI expert, a software developer and an oncologist. Together, they embarked on a journey to find a solution to the late detection of breast cancer.

In 2021, Kemisola and her team came up with a working prototype of a smart bra which sensors to scan the breasts for abnormalities. 

Inside the smart bra are seven sensors strategically placed across each bra cup, connected via cables to a USB output. The USB output connects the bra to a computer or mobile app, where software accesses the data and scans for anomalies. A specialist can then interpret these readings. This bra is still a prototype, with about 87 percent accuracy, according to Kemisola.

With the update, the team hopes to have a minimum viable product for clinical trials to international standards.

Kemisola's startup, Nextwear Technology, has an existing product in the market; a necklace that doubles as a tracking device. With the mobile app, a guardian can follow the journey of the wearer of the necklace. This product was created in response to the state of insecurity in the nation. Since launching it last year, Nextwear Tech has sold over 300 units. The mother of one says this is because the startup has not done much marketing but that is about to change.