Things You Take For Granted That Were Actually Invented in Singapore

Famous Singaporeans are a dime a dozen. Names like talented singer-songwriter Nathan Hartono or Joseph Schooling, namely the young man who beat Michael Phelps and the nation’s first winner of the Olympic Gold easily spring to mind. Schooling and Hartono are not the only ones who have made Singapore proud, however. In the flurry of everyday life, you will be surprised to have passed by or used some seemingly ordinary things that were actually invented in Singapore:

RAZER

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If you ever find yourself in an electronics shop, you might have noticed at least one stylish gaming mouse with a striking neon green on black. The signature colours are none other than Razer’s, a now San Francisco-based company co-founded by Singaporean Min-Liang Tan and Robert Krakoff. Razer had a relatively humble beginning, starting off in 1998 as a subsidiary of kärna LLC. After financial issues led to Kärna’s closure in 2000, Razer bounced back to its current iteration in 2005, right after Tan and Krakoff procured the rights to the brand.

USB FLASH DRIVES

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The USB flash drive goes by many names, including the thumbdrive, memory stick or USB memory. The rewritable data storage device is no doubt a portable wonder that has allowed for us to seamlessly share data and information, condensing its bulk into a handy, thumb-sized convenience. The thumbdrive is no obscure invention either, with over 3 billion USB products reportedly shipped every year. Originally invented by Trek 2000 International from Singapore, the thumbdrive first made its debut at a technology fair in Germany at the turn of the millennium. The first prototypes of these flash drives went for about US$30 a pop for just 128MB worth of space – about the same amount you would probably fork out for a 128GB flash drive today.

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GARENA

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This Asia-based consumer Internet platform provider was founded in Singapore, back in 2009 by Forrest Li. Today, the privately held company distributes game titles on Garena+ exclusively all across Southeast Asia, including popular games like League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and Point Blank. In case you ever wondered about the story behind the name, Garena is a portmanteau of "global arena".

MATCH.COM

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It’s now the age of mobile apps like Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel, but two decades back, dating apps existed in a different form. Launched by Singaporean Peng T. Ong and his business partner Gary Kremen in 1995, Match.com had a rather different beginning, and was intended as a proof-of-concept for a company for classified advertising. Today, the online dating service boasts websites serving 25 countries in over eight languages, with offices in major cities around the world including Beijing, Hollywood, San Francisco and Tokyo.

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LUNCH ACTUALLY

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In case you find the online dating scene a little too casual and fickle, enter the Singapore-founded Lunch Actually. Founded by wife and husband duo, Singaporean Violet Lim and Jamie Lee, think of the company as a modern day matchmaker, with your potential date personally screened and curated according to your own profile, lifestyle and preferences. Intended to help those looking for a serious relationship rather than a fickle, casual encounter, Lunch Actually even boasts a team of dating consultants to coach you in your quest for love. For the convenience of an app, the group has also launched free dating app LunchClick.

SOUND BLASTER

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Before Creative Technologies invented the Sound Blaster, early computers could even not play music. The Sound Blaster is a family of sound cards, which was the most popular standard for consumer audio after it was introduced about three decades ago, especially during the era of IBM PC and Microsoft Windows 95. Since its inception, the sound blaster birthed many editions.

INFRARED FEVER SCREENING SYSTEM

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How does one measure large groups of people for symptoms of fever? The Infrared Fever Screening System (IFss) was originally invented to combat the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003. Conceptualised in Singapore by Defence Science & Technology Agency and Singapore Technologies Electronics, the system utilizes a two-point detection to screen large groups for fever, starting with thermal imagers. Once it has been detected that a person is emitting a high body temperature, conventional clinical thermometers will be used to confirm initial suspicions.

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