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At the young age of 17, Lesley John-Jumbo from Rivers State, Nigeria, has already established himself as a skilled developer in both AI and embedded systems. Together with his team, he creates impressive prototypes with the aim of improving the lives of people through technology. Additionally, Jumbo is highly interested in safeguarding personal information, and he actively studies OPSEC and OSINT to do so. Jumbo discovered his passion for innovation and hardware during an AI boot camp that he attended.
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The teenage years are often a time for young people to explore the latest trends in movies, gadgets, and games; all about consumption. However, Jumbo has chosen to use this formative period of his life differently. Instead of simply consuming technology, he has decided to build his own gadgets. Fortunately, he has a supportive group of friends who share his passion and together, they work on developing systems that pique their interests. This collaboration has proven to be a significant advantage for Jumbo, as he continues to learn and grow as a developer. In an interview with Techpoint Africa, Jumbo mentioned that he was raised in a family with strict rules that discouraged frivolous activities. However, Jumbo was able to turn these limitations into an advantage. Instead of feeling constrained, he used his time indoors to develop his curiosity about the world. With access to a smartphone and the internet, Jumbo was able to explore the latest trends and developments. By embracing the opportunities presented by these tools, Jumbo was able to pursue his interests and grow as a developer, despite the restrictions imposed by his family.
“In my household, we’re like this strict family, so I’m indoors most of the time. Though I go out for important things, it isn’t the kind of home where you can do anything you want. But with smartphones, we can see what was happening everywhere.”
When asked why he chose to pursue hardware development over software, Jumbo explained that while he has the technical skills to become a successful software developer and earn a comfortable living, his passion lies in creating physical products that people can touch and interact with. For Jumbo, there’s a unique thrill in seeing something he’s designed come to life in the real world.
“I want to see my creations, feel them, and touch them,”
Despite the challenges that come with hardware development, such as long hours and substantial financial costs, Jumbo is committed to seeing his projects through to completion. I believe that the rewards of finishing a project and seeing people benefit from his creations outweigh any personal sacrifices he has to make along the way. In fact, credit for his determination and persistence should go to the discipline instilled in him by his strict upbringing, which taught him to value hard work and perseverance above all else.
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Also according to Techpoint, Jumbo faced the challenge of sourcing materials for his projects, which could have hindered him from pursuing his passion. However, he was fortunate to have a hardware startup named Techoville Innovations Nigeria located near his lab, which happened to be his parents’ yard. The startup recognized Jumbo’s dedication and drive and readily provided them with the necessary parts. Despite this support, Jumbo’s team still required additional funds to acquire supplies that Techoville Innovations Nigeria did not have. To address this need, Jumbo took up photo editing as a side hustle.
“The startup gave me some stuff to start with, but along the line, I needed more things, so I started saving the money I made from picture edits and the money I was given for food — mostly the money I’m given for food — and mom also supports me sometimes.”
Furthermore, Jumbo embarked on his hardware tech journey in 2022, when he and his team developed the innovative Smart Trash Can. This device was unique in that it opened automatically upon detecting motion in its direction. While the initial development process took a month, Jumbo can now create the Smart Trash Can in just two days.
Air Clicks
Building on this success, Jumbo’s next project was the Air Clicks. These wristbands allow users to control their paired appliances with hand gestures. The Air Clicks feature ultrasonic sensors that collect environmental data, which Jumbo programmed to be translated using Python.
“Creating the Air Clicks was a rigorous process. I had to learn a new language just to complete the project. I code in C, but it also needed Python, so I had to learn it.”

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In just a month, Jumbo quickly picked up Python and was able to program the ultrasonic sensors to respond to specific commands based on the degree or distance of detected obstacles.
Looking to the future, Jumbo intends to build the HI-Wear. The Hi-Wear is a shoe specifically designed to perform multiple functions, including step counting, weight measurement, and location tracking of the user. It is capable of sending the collected data to an application for further analysis. Source: Techpoint Africa Featured Image Source: Techpoint Africa
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This article was first published on 18th April 2023


I am a poet. I am a moderate thinker who abhors radicalism on every front and believes that most things are relative. I am a social and political critic. I love writing, reading and international politics.

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