5 everyday things invented by Malaysians

The pen drive, a revolutionary digital storage device, was invented by a Malaysian engineer. (Pixabay pic)

Malaysia has much to be proud of – its rich diversity of cultures, food beyond compare and many beautiful natural sights to enjoy.

But Malaysians are also responsible for many inventions, some which are used worldwide on a daily basis.

Here are five:

1. Flash drive

Office workers of the older generation would remember when floppy disks were the size of dinner plates and could store only a limited amount of data.

Then came compact discs, which were much easier to carry around but could easily be damaged with the slightest scratch or an accumulation of dust.

Sekinchan-born Pua Khein Seng came up with the idea of a portable data storage device that could easily fit into the palm of the hand. While working in Taiwan, he would create the world’s first flash drives, a milestone in the field of data storage.

Given how people store everything from photographs to songs to videos to documents on their tiny but reliable flash drives nowadays, there is much to thank Pua for.

2. Loom bands

Rainbow Loom bands were a craze in the US with millions sold. (AFP pic)

These colourful rubber bands, which were a huge commercial success in the US, were the brainchild of a Malaysian.

Called Rainbow Looms, they are little plastic devices that weave colourful rubber and plastic bands together to make bracelets and charms for children.

Cheong Choon Ng was working as an automotive engineer in the US when he made some colourful rubber band bracelets for his children.

When his daughters went to school with their new bracelets, schoolmates began to ask where they could get them, and the rest is history.

It was reported that as at 2014, his company had sold over eight million Rainbow Looms worldwide as well as 40 million packets of the rubber bands that go with them.

3. Lytro camera

The Lytro camera was an important step forward for the field of photography. (Wikipedia pic)

Avid photographers will know of the occasional struggle to get just the right amount of light in the picture and to control its direction.

Malaysian-born Ren Ng ran into this problem while taking a photograph of a friend’s daughter and decided to solve it.

At the time, he was studying light fields as a student in a Stanford University programme in Australia and he came up with the idea for a light field camera.

Technically, there were cameras that could do what he wanted but they were impractical, consisting of nearly 100 digital cameras connected to a supercomputer.

By looking into electrical and mechanical engineering, he came up with a practical light field camera that was capable of taking photographs in dark conditions without using a flash.

4. Egg boiler

This simple but practical piece of kitchenware was invented by an egg-loving Malaysian. (Pinterest pic)

A relatively simple but brilliant invention, egg boilers can be found everywhere, from traditional kopitiams to tea stalls and quite possibly the kitchen at home.

Necessity, they say is the mother of invention. Hew Ah Kow was a bulldozer operator in a lumber camp. He loved half-boiled eggs for breakfast but, unfortunately, those served at the camp were often overcooked.

Hew began looking for a way to perfectly half-boil eggs and, eventually, he put together four pieces of plasticware to make the first egg boiler.

In addition to being effective, these boilers are also highly practical as one just needs to put in hot water and eggs before leaving the boiler to do its job.

5. Nehemiah walls

Nehemiah walls made with hexagonal panels that together form a strong and sturdy wall.

Driving alongside a flyover, walls consisting of hexagonal blocks can be seen. They are called Nehemiah walls and they serve a purpose beyond looking aesthetically pleasing – they provide structural integrity to bridges.

Named after Nehemiah Lee, each hexagonal panel is connected with steel bars and together they form a strong and versatile wall.

Lee was studying for his Master’s when he came up with his own uniquely patterned retaining wall.

The effectiveness of his invention is proven by the fact they are used not only in Malaysia but also Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong.