Three Winners Named at the ASME ISHOW in Kenya


June 9, 2017


Brian Gitta demonstrates his team’s entry, Matibabu, a non-invasive Malaria testing device. Gitta was one of the three grand-prize winners at ISHOW Kenya in May. (Photo by Marilyn Parker)

The creators of three new social innovations — a device for detecting malaria, a portable science lab, and a glove that translates sign-language — were named the grand-prize winners at the recent ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) in Nairobi, Kenya, which was the second of three regional ISHOWs the Society is holding this spring.

A total of 10 teams presented their inventions at ISHOW Kenya, which was held May 25 in Nairobi at the Golden Tulip Westlands Nairobi Hotel. The first competition of the 2017 ISHOW season, ISHOW India, was held in Bengaluru in April. A third event, ISHOW USA, will take place later this month in Washington, D.C.


Charles Antipem (far left), explains his product, Science Set, to several attendees at ISHOW Kenya. (Photo by Marilyn Parker)

The 10 ISHOW Kenya finalists presented prototypes of their hardware-led innovations to a panel of judges and advisors that included entrepreneurs, academics and founders of venture-funded startup companies. The three grand-prize winners — who hail from Uganda, Ghana and Kenya — will share in more than $500,000 in cash prizes and in-kind technical support, including an extensive design and engineering review of their products.

Brian Gitta of Uganda was one of the three winners for his entry, Matibabu, a non-invasive Malaria testing device that employs custom-made hardware that is connected to a smart phone to enable easy at-home diagnoses. Gitta and his team developed Matibabu with the goal of reducing the number of people suffering from the life-threatening disease, lessen the severity of their symptoms, and decrease the amount of time and medication necessary to treat Malaria patients.


Roy Allela (center), the founder of Sign-IO, accepts his trophy from LR Kamau Gachigi (left), CEO of Gearbox; Dr. Robert Karanja (second from right), CEO of Villgro Kenya; and Paul Scott (right), director of the ASME ISHOW program. (Photo by Marilyn Parker)

The second grand-prize winner, Charles Antipem of Ghana, is the inventor of Science Set, an inexpensive, portable and highly scalable science lab that can fit in a student’s bag or on a desk top. With the affordable mini-science lab, Antipem and his team hope to transform the state of education in Ghana and the rest of Africa by making the kit widely available to students, which in turn will hopefully show them first-hand that science can be both fun and exciting.

Roy Allela of Kenya, the third grand prize winner, is the creator of Sign-IO, a sign-language-to-speech translation glove that was developed to help sign language users communicate with the general public. The device is intended to help the more than 30 million speech-impaired people throughout the world better interact with those who don’t understand sign language. The speech translation glove identifies letters as they are signed and transmits this data to an Android application that converts it into spoken words.


Sign-IO, one of the three winning products at ISHOW Kenya, is a sign-language-to-speech translation glove that was developed to help sign language users communicate with the public at large. (Photo by Marilyn Parker)

These three winners of ISHOW Kenya are prime examples of the program’s goal of creating a community of innovators and entrepreneurs whose products will have a positive impact on the world. “The unique solutions of our three African winners will radically transform and elevate the way their beneficiaries live, allowing them to thrive in ways that were previously impossible,” said Keith Roe, president of ASME. “Their display of creativity and ingenuity, and that of their peers, fully embodies the spirit of the ISHOW and exemplifies the potential of tomorrow’s engineering problem-solvers and business leaders.”

Judges and advisors at ISHOW Kenya included Heather Fleming, chief executive officer of Catapult Design; Dr. Kamau Gachigi, executive director of Gearbox; June Madete from Kenyatta University; Dr. Robert Karanja, CEO of Villgro Kenya; and Thomas G. Loughlin, executive director of ASME.

The third and final 2017 ASME ISHOW, ISHOW-USA, will take place June 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the District Architecture Center in Washington, D.C. For information on the 10 finalists who will be participating, visit https://thisishardware.org/competition/2017/usa.

For more information the ISHOW program and a complete list of the ISHOW Kenya finalists, visit the competition website at https://thisishardware.org.