3 March 2014

Kenyan Startup Ventures Into Wearable Technology

A Kenyan start-up CladLight has unveiled the region's first wearable jacket targeting motorbike owners with the aim of reducing road accidents involving motorcyclists.

According to the start-up founders, the smart jacket transmits signals from the motorbike to the smart jacket to show the direction the biker wants to turn using radio waves.

The first of its kind globally, the smart jacket is also fitted with a tracker by use of GPS that allows companies owning the motorbikes to know the location of the bikers.

Founded by brothers' Charles Muchene and Joseph Muchene, CladLight hopes to sell about 10,000 smart jackets in the next four months and hopes to raise over 10 million shillings for the venture.

As for now the startup already has piloted 12 jackets on various concerns including comfortability, design and battery life.

Following the successful pilot Cladlight says it is searching for suppliers of cheaper components as it scales up which it says could bring the cost down by up to 30 percent.

"We are not even ruling out the possibility that once we have the product ready we will license it to a person who can manufacture it better and at a cheaper cost.If someone can do it better and cheaper than us all possibilities are open," said Cladlight cofounder Charles Muchene.

According to statistics Kenya currently has over 100,000 motorbikes that ferry passengers everyday many of whom hope to beat the unending traffic in major cities as well as others operating in the countryside.

The smart jackets come in two forms one that has its own power source using batteries as well as another that gets its energy from the motorbike both at varying prices.

Charles says they are currently in talks with one degree an NGO operating on the solar charging space in the country.

The start-up which has already filed for a patent in Kenya says it is currently in talks with various government bodies for quick rollout including the national transport authority among other players.

"We hope to expand to the neighboring countries soon as soon as we have rolled out in Kenya. The main problem we have faced is in securing a patent continent wide is that the fees are too high but we do hope with the Kenyan rollout as well as increased investment we can also secure that," Charles concluded.

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