SolAlert: Solar Intruder Alert with Text Messaging System

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Security has been a significant concern in many households in Africa. In Kenya, 45% of the homes lack access to electricity, and 34% of the 77,600 crimes registered in 2017, were theft, robbery, and burglary. A solar intruder alert system installed in each home will use a combination of motion, ultrasonics, and a camera to detect any intruder during the times of its operation as set by the owner. The solar intruder alert system will detect the movement of an intruder using thermal infrared radiation or a camera, and produce light, sound, and a text message to alert the homeowner. The product combines a renewable and easy to access solar energy source to provide security systems for low and middle-income communities who primarily lack reliable access to electricity from the grid. The product is also simplified from the existing products fulfilling this purpose in the market using a low-cost and secure mobile network system without the need for internet, through which the customer can choose to have any of the three or a combination of the alert systems (i.e.) light, sound, and a text message. The product uses five simple components of a microcontroller (Raspberry Pi/Arduino), sensors, connectors, light, buzzer, and communication components. As an example, figure 1 shows the proposed text message alert system communication model using Raspberry Pi. These components are readily accessible in the context of our operation and most peri-urban communities in Kenya. The existing products serving this purpose in the market uses high-end components with the need for an internet connection and are expensive.

Additionally, the product is unique as it has been collaboratively developed by students in the community of this need, who are former street youth at an alternative school. Our team conducted market research with a simple first-level prototype using a distance sensor with a light and sound alert system in the market with approximately 50 potential customers in the community, including both low-and-middle-income families. The research results showed that 98% of the interviewers demonstrated an interest in the product, with 20% of them ready to purchase immediately. 16% of the users requested a payment plan which will allow them to acquire quickly. Currently, our team of students and we are working together in testing the text messaging system for alert, and with more financial support, we will be able to convert this idea into a feasible product.

In addition to the product itself, our trained team of former street-youth and vocational students will carry out the free installation of the product with a one-year warranty service (excluding user inflicted damages) and free maintenance for up to one year. In the community, households normally do self-wiring or use untrained technicians. Therefore, we will also conduct a free electrical health check-up at the customer’s home and offer advice for any protective measures necessary.


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  • Name:
    Dhinesh Radhakrishnan
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Elvis Masika, William Masika, James Nyagah, Rhoda, Samwel Kimani
  • Profession:
  • Dhinesh is inspired by:
    Our design is inspired by the need in the community and that it is being co-designed by members of the community based on available resources.
  • Patent status: