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International

More Asian ideas, startups needed

Two weeks ago, I had the honor to represent Singapore at the Asia-Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) Awards. The event showcased the best ICT products created by Asians for Asians, as we celebrated the most innovative ideas and startups across the region.
Written by Lee Lup Yuen, Contributor on

Two weeks ago, I had the honor to represent Singapore at the Asia-Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) Awards. The event showcased the best ICT products created by Asians for Asians, as we celebrated the most innovative ideas and startups across the region.

My team's product, exCite TV, earned a "Special Mention" commendation at the event. exCite TV is uniquely Asian because it curates and presents the best Internet videos that people in the region like to watch; I use it every day on my large screen HDTV to entertain my family, my friends and myself.

With Apple and Google products flooding the market, we often forget what's meaningful to Asians and why we need Asian products. Look at Apple's Siri voice-activated personal assistant--I need to speak with an American accent just so Siri can understand me. I can ask Siri for the weather, but it's not useful in Singapore because the weather here is either sunny, rainy or sunny and rainy.

So my team built the "DeF!nd" app that helps you find the best street food in Singapore by talking to it. There's no official English spelling for some Singlish names and street food--how do I spell and search for "Ham Cheem Pang"/"Hum Jim Bang"/"Harm Chim Peng"?

"DeF!nd" solves the search input problem by listening and understanding the Singlish terms that Singaporeans speak, and I'm proud to do my part to preserve the Singlish heritage through a uniquely Asian app.

I have great respect for Apple, Google and the products that they make. But it's time we thought about the unique needs of Asians and start building products that we really want to use.

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