Better Living Challenge


Lumkani heads towards large-scale product rollout thanks to BLC support

Apr 21, 2015

The Better Living Challenge recently caught up with Francois Petousis, a Director of Lumkani, regarding the market support services that Lumkani is currently receiving as part of its competition award, and what this means for the fire detection project in the future…

Lumkani by David Gluckman and team - 1024

Lumkani – a low-cost fire detector and alert system – was a category prizewinner in the 2014 round of the Better Living Challenge. The invention, which is designed for low-income households, won R500 000 worth of support services to help further develop this worthy invention so it can go to market.

In the event of a fire, Lumkani not only alerts residents as to where the fire has started, it uses transmission mechanisms to trigger neighbouring devices within the system up to 100m from the source of the fire. Lumkani can also provide the nearest fire station with the GPS location of the fire allowing for proactive early response.

Considering its vast relevance in low-income housing settlements where fire is a constant threat, it is an exciting step in the product’s development that the team behind Lumkani now aims to roll out the alarm unit on a much wider scale. In order to achieve this goal, the support service needs that Lumkani has identified, together with the Better Living Challenge, include improving the quality and durability of the outer casing of the alarm housing unit, as well as increasing the audibility of the alarm sound.

The Better Living Challenge has partnered with SKEG in order to support these improvements to the product, so that Lumkani can be more easily manufactured, and on a far larger scale. Lumkani and SKEG are currently working together to redesign the mould for the outer plastic casing of the device.

According to Lumkani’s Director Francois Petousis, “We are going through the redesign process since we are heading towards a larger scale roll out, and we needed a higher quality plastic mould for that scale. Furthermore, our device is going through the SABS approval process and the new casing will help us do so with ease.”

The new design will make for a more durable product that can better withstand its environment. Lumkani is also trying to achieve an even louder sound output so that the alarm is much more audible. On the whole, the team is striving to create an easier-to-use product that makes the user experience more intuitive.

Lumkani is submitting its device for SABS approval because this will improve brand confidence and open up wider avenues to market. “SABS approval is critical for us if we are ever to move into the government sphere; this approval is required before government can purchase from any organisation,” Petousis explains. “Beyond that, having the SABS stamp of approval behind our device will improve the trust in our product as we access new markets. For us, it’s important that people are able to rely on the quality and reliability of our device in all the situations into which it may go.”

 For Lumkani, the Better Living Challenge has created the right kind of connections and partnerships for it to begin the process of product renewal. Petousis continues: “The Better Living Challenge has been amazing thus far, in really being committed to ensure value for us in this award, and we have found their approach very refreshing. The Better Living Challenge has interrogated the best use of our award for the growth of our business, and that type of genuine support is something we are very grateful for, in comparison with the straight money prizes many competitions out there offer. We really look forward to their continued interest and engagement during the rest of our work together, and the value that we know it will add!”

The Better Living Challenge looks forward to the day when Lumkani will go into mass production – and hopefully, to seeing one installed in every low-income home!