Silas Adekunle is a Nigerian technology entrepreneur known for creating the world’s first intelligent gaming robot. He earned a first class degree in robotics from the University of the West of England.
He is the co-founder of Reach Robotics, an augmented reality gaming company that creates robots for gaming and for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Adekunle has partnered with Apple, signing an exclusive distribution deal to sell his product in both the United States and Britain. In November 2018, he was named to the Financial Times’ list of the ‘Top 100 minority ethnic leaders in technology.
According to a Forbes interview, the young Adekunle would tinker with amateur robotics, getting ideas from YouTube and dabbling in code before he went on to do programming in C++ at university.
Through training and constant refining, Adekunle improved immensely from his teenage experiments, which included (as detailed in the Forbes interview), a robotic hand made out of baked beans cans, and a robotic face (based on the Kismet robot of MIT’s Dr Cynthia Breazeal) that had tennis balls for eyes and rolled-up pieces of paper for ears.
In 2013 Adekunle met Christopher Beck, co-founder and CTO of Reach Robotics. They partnered up to develop Mekamon, the world’s first gaming robot. “When I went into robotics, I really loved motion,” Adekunle told Forbes. “People are used to clunky robots, and when you make it realistic, people either love it or they’re freaked out.”
The uniqueness and impact of Reach’s world-class gaming robot is its ability to leverage EdTech to provide education. He says playing games is an excellent way to learn – making MekaMon, and consumer robotics as a whole, an ideal pathway into engineering, game design and coding. “We believe that this technology has huge potential within STEM education – both as a teaching aid and as a means to inspire the next generation – whatever their backgrounds – to aspire to a career in STEM.”
Nigerian-born Silas Adekunle says his company is looking at the potential in the Nigerian market and he said “inevitably I’ll have an eye on the country where I grew up – but we’re not on sale in Nigeria just yet.”
Adekunle hopes that he might be a positive example of what is possible for kids in Nigeria with the same passion for dissecting technology and developing devices that he did at their age; as he has decided to remain a valuable role model that encourages young people to pursue a career in STEM.
Adekunle, who has taken over the world with his inventiveness contributions to technology in Africa is an inspiration as he is our Youth of the Week!