5 recent Kenyan innovations that earned international recognition

A growing crop of young Kenyans are proving that beyond Olympics, Kenya has the potential to produce trailblazing innovations with the capacity to transform the world.

Birthed mainly through necessity, these innovations have developed ways to solve day to day challenges we experience.

Some of these innovations are tech-driven while others take advantage of natural resources to power them up.

Below are some of the mind-blowing innovations by Kenyans

Roy Allela’s Smart Gloves
winner of the prestigious Trailblazer Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Inspired by his great urge to communicate with his 6-year-old niece who was born deaf, Roy Allela, a 25-year-old Kenyan techpreneur invented Sign-10, a pair of smart gloves with flex sensors to aid his cousin’s communication with the other members of the family.

The flex sensors stitched to each finger, aids in quantifying the letters formed from the curve of each finger of the glove’s wearer.

The gloves are then connected through Bluetooth to a mobile phone application that vocalizes the hand movements

“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing and I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” Allela stated.

The application also takes into account speed, language, gender and the pitch of the vocals, putting into account that different people have different needs.

The gloves can also be customized into the client’s specification and style, which Allela explained aims to fight the stigmatization that comes with being deaf.

His commitment to making this innovation a success translates to an accuracy result of 93%, making him the winner of the prestigious Trailblazer Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Solar Tiles innovators who beat Tesla Founder Elon Musk

Elon Musk has been indisputably known as the father of modern innovation. However, two siblings are giving Musk a run for his money after it was reported that they birthed their solar tiles innovation a decade before he did.

Charity Wanjiku and Tony Nyaga of Strauss energy, birthed their Solar Tiles Invention in the late 1990s after Kenyans experienced a 16-hour power blackout.

They aimed to solve the never-ending electricity problem by introducing a speedy catalyst to the problem.

We are both techies. He’s an engineer and I’m an architect. The question begged itself: how do we amass our expertise towards introducing a speeding catalyst to the power/ electricity problem we have in the country?” Wanjiku explained during an interview with Forbes.

The two also revealed that they first pitched the idea for their master’s degree and they received commendations and criticism in equal measure.

On whether a similar innovation by Tesla meant something to them, the two responded that they were elated to have validated Tesla’s Idea.

“The fact that an innovation giant like Tesla has a similar product to Strauss Energy elates us as an African innovative company,” Wanjiku noted. 

Gas Tracking Device by TUK Student

If your cooking gas seems to only run out while you are in the middle of making your dinner leaving you clueless about what to do next, A Technical University of Kenya student, irked by these incidents invented an app that would ensure you track your gas usage, letting you know when your gas is almost running out.

Henry Onyango, pursuing a degree in automation and control developed an app that would provide timely data on gas consumption.

The App also provides information on vendors allowed to supply gas from verified cooking gas manufacturers.

His innovation seeks to promote budgeting at home as one is able to track the quantity of gas they use in a month.

He also revealed that he had pitched the idea, which is currently at the prototype stage, to different gas merchants and most showed interest.

“I have already pitched my idea to top gas manufacturers and they are happy that their brands will be protected from fraudsters who masquerade as vendors listed with them,” he says.

Richard Turere’s Lion Lights

Richard Turere, a young Maasai herder watched as his family and community grappled with losing their livestock every single day when lions attacked their cattle pens.

To lock out the lions out of the pens where they kept their herd, Turere, who was then 11, came up with Lion Lights, a solar- powered light system that sought to mimic the movements of someone using a torch to watch over the herd.

This way, Turere’s community did not have to keep watch over their cattle all night.

“I began learning about electronics by breaking things,” Richard stated.

“I broke my mum’s new radio and she was very annoyed, she nearly killed me,” Turere explained how his love for electronics birthed his idea.

His Lion Lights Idea has so far been adopted by 750 homesteads in his community and saw him hosted at TED Talks show.

The i-Cut app by Kenyan Highschoolers

While most people think that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is no longer a problem among Kenyan Communities, five Kenyan girls, prompted by the need to provide a solution for their friends who had to quit school for the practice, developed i-Cut.

The application connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue agents and offers support for those who have already undergone the process.

The life-saving application also provides information about FGM and the negative effects it poses for its victims.

The innovation qualified them for the prestigious International Technovation Contest, a platform where girls develop mobile apps to end problems facing their communities.

Kenyans.co.ke by Norah Kamau

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