|Tolu Iroye receiving his award for best use of technology at The Future Awards|
The Magic Box began as an idea to create a non-line of sight remote control that would work for his TV set without him being in the room. “I’m motivated by the need to create solutions to problems,” Iroye said. And so he began work with components that he sourced from the Alaba Electronics Market. It took about one year to complete the Magic Box, an equipment that allows one to switch off any electronic device in the home or office with a phone call from anywhere in the world. The user makes a phone call to a sim card located in the Box which gives a voice prompt that offers options to the caller on how to switch on or off their TV, power generator and light metre through a micro-controller.
Iroye’s recent victory in The Future Award’s best use of technology category brought out the life story of the brilliant techie which began many years ago. As a child, Iroye’s curiosity got the better of him and the quiet albeit stubborn kid loved to look at pictures in science books. Even though he could not read them, his older siblings took out time to explain the concepts to him. At age six years old, Iroye built his first invention, a cell battery using ground charcoal, a disposed carbon rod, a tin of milk, lime water, grass and herbs all picked from the neighbourhood rubbish mound.
Amused by his resourcefulness and sometimes-destructive streak - Iroye would tear apart the family’s transistor radio looking for the magical voice that came out of it - but his parents left him to explore. He left many an electronic gadget in their Festac, Lagos apartment in tatters. From out of these he built new stuff. It was the beginning of his inventor’s journey.
At age 10, he built a battery-powered toy car from his heap of scrap. At 12 Tolu began purchasing scraps from friends with his pocket money. While the other boys at school spent their lunch money on hiring bicycles, he used his to purchase equipment for constructing homemade antennas that neighbours bought to enable them unscramble signals from the Cabletel satellite channel. “I still don’t know how to ride a bicycle,” Iroye joked.
More was to follow. He created a land telephone network that enabled him to communicate free with friends in their apartment block. An audio transmitter followed and then a voltage stabiliser to help the family adjust the low voltage they were supplied by the power company when they moved to Badagry. This was all before he turned 14.
|Iroye's Magic Box|