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Ingenious Innovations Made by Kenyans

Kenya is among the most competitive nations in the world, and over the past and recent years, has had individuals coming up with innovations that attracted global attention.

Some innovators learned, others, never seen a classroom door, have put Kenya on the global map in terms of creativity.

A number of them have been made by Kenyans in their productive youth years, however, two of the innovations to hit global headlines have been by Kenyans who were below 15 years.

In this segment, Whownskenya.com looks at ingenious innovations made by Kenyans.

David Gathu and Moses Kinyua – Prosthetic Robotics Arm

These two young men from Kikuyu, Kiambu County, created a prosthetic robotics arm that could be set to change the future of people living with disabilities in Kenya.

The device is powered by brain signals. A patient straps on the robotics arm and puts on a brain-computer interface (BCI). The brain signals are then converted into an electric current by the “NeuroNode” biopotential headset receiver.

This electrical current is then driven into the circuit of the robotic arm, causing it to move.
“It acts according to the way you think. If you think to lift your arm or wave, the technology will do so according to your desire,” they told K24 TV during a past interview.
“By just thinking of an action, a user can operate a vehicle, switch on and off the lights as well as operate a computer,” they noted.

However, the lack of quality materials has been their major concern, forcing them to use scrap metals in building the robotics.

The components used in creating the arms have been sourced from electronic dealers and various dumpsites in villages and towns.
Gathu and Kinyua have since appealed to the government and international institutions to help them realise their full potential by providing quality materials.
Roy Allela – Smart Glove
Well, not many of us in society can communicate or relate to a deaf person, and even very few understand sign language.
Allela, 26, had a never ending urge to communicate with his seven year old niece who was born deaf. This pushed into innovating a smart glove. The gloves convert sign language movements into audio speech.
Roy Allela wearing the smart glove. |Photo| Courtesy|
He works for the Intel and tutors data science at Oxford University.
Allela named the gloves Sign-IO. They have flex sensors that quantify the bend of the fingers stitched on to each finger thereby processing the letter being signaled. They are then paired via Bluetooth to a mobile phone application which in turn vocalizes the letters.
“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,” he said.
The glove takes into consideration the speed of the speech making process, making it easy to use by both slow and fast speakers. Users can also set the language, gender and pitch of the vocalization through the app.
The gloves have an accuracy of 93 per cent. During the Mashujaa Day Celebrations in Gusii Stadium, Kisii County, President Uhuru Kenyatta recognized the smart gloves as one of the great inventions by a brilliant Kenyan youth.
Other awards include: The hardware trailblazer award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and Pitch @ Palace people’s choice award.
The Sign-IO app. |Photo| Courtesy|
Mungai Gathogo and Joseph Muhinja – Hospital Beds
Gathogo, 26, and Muhinja, 35, hail from Githunguri, Kiambu County. These two gentlemen attracted the attention of President Uhuru Kenyatta after they made hospital beds from locally available materials at their workshop.
Their innovation was timely as the country had been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and in need of advanced hospital beds to cater for patients.
Amazed by the design and technology behind the beds, President Kenyatta instructed the Government to immediately procure 500 beds.
He dispatched Presidential Delivery Unit Secretary Andrew Wakahiu and Kiambu County Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga to Githunguri to assess the beds and convey the Government’s decision.
Wakahiu stated that the Government, through the Numerical Machining Complex, will also help the young entrepreneurs and other innovators with technical skills and equipment to hasten production and improve quality.
Richard Turere
When he was 11 years old, he hit international headlines after inventing a solar-powered light system to keep the lions out of the cattle shed. His family was losing many cows to lions on a regular basis.
He first built a scarecrow, which the lions ignored. He then moved to made the pen dark, but the lions could smell the cattle. On one night, he was patrolling the pen with a torch and the lions did not come. He deviced a way to make it appear as if he was there patrolling but in the actual sense he was enjoying his sleep.
File image of Richard Turere hearding his goats. |Photo| Courtesy|
“So I got an old car battery, an indicator box. It’s a small device found in a motorcycle, and it helps motorists when they want to turn right or left. It blinks. And I got a switch where I can switch on the lights, on and off. And that’s a small torch from a broken flashlight.
“So I set up everything. As you can see, the solar panel charges the battery, and the battery supplies the power to the small indicator box. I call it a transformer. And the indicator box makes the lights flash. As you can see, the bulbs face outside, because that’s where the lions come from. And that’s how it looks to lions when they come at night. The lights flash and trick the lions into thinking I was walking around the cowshed, but I was sleeping in my bed,” Turere stated during a TED X talk on March 27, 2013.
Today the Lion Lights system is now in about 1000 homesteads within the Maasai community, and has massively helped fend off wild animals at night.
File image of the lion lights made by Richard Turere. |Photo| Courtesy|
Stephen Wamukota
The nine year old boy hit international headlines after he invented a handwashing machine during the Covid-19 period.
His innovation was necessitated by the need to fight the spread of Covid-19 through proper handwashing, and minimising contamination.
Using wood, Stephen deviced a machine with a series of levers, allowing the user to tip a water container using a foot peddle.
Stephen and his family live in Mukwa village, in Bungoma country, western Kenya.

“I had bought some pieces of wood to make a window frame, but I when I came back home after work one day I found that Stephen had made the machine,” his father James Wamukota told BBC.

“The concept was his and I helped tighten the machine. I’m very proud,” he said.

Stephen was awarded the Presidential Order of Service, Uzalendo (Patriotic) Award on June 1, 2020, by President Uhuru Kenyatta.