KOTA KINABALU: A teenager’s app for an Internet-based messaging service that can provide instantaneous language translation has caught the attention of online giant Google.
Yusrim Karim, 15, submitted his app – Coker Chat, which he has been quietly developing for about five months – to Google Ideas late last year.
He said a few weeks later, a Google Ideas official contacted him via e-mail and, describing his software as fantastic, offered him a chance to work on a US$36mil (RM133.14mil) project or US$50,000 (RM184,910) cash.
The Form Three SMK Merpati student from Sandakan said he chose the cash.
“I am happy that Google Ideas accepted my software,” he said, adding that it made the long hours of working on it after school – sometimes until 3am – worth it.
Yusrim said his idea for the app was to make it easier for anyone in the world to communicate using their own language.
A think tank based in New York, Google Ideas is dedicated to understanding global challenges and coming up with technological solutions.
No one outside of Yusrim’s family knew about the Google Ideas recognition and award until he casually mentioned it to his science teacher Azlan Budun last week.
Azlan, who taught Yusrim information and communication technology (ICT) last year, said the idea was the 14th that his student submitted to Google Ideas.
“He has so many creative concepts in mind and the 14th one that he sent in was the one that got him the recognition,” said Azlan.
Yusrim’s idea, he said, came after realising that older Internet users would benefit from an instantaneous translation service, especially when doing business in other countries.
Described by Azlan as a bright student who is doing well both academically and in extra-curricular activities, Yusrim is the youngest of three sons of Forestry Department officer Karim Maturis and his wife Hamidah Ismail.
Yusrim said his father had told him that the money would be set aside for his education.
The teenager’s eldest brother is studying matriculation in Labuan while another brother just completed Form Five.
SMK Merpati principal Sani Sahwi said the school would do its part to encourage and develop Yusrim’s talent in computers.
“We would like to have him participate in the National Innovation Award. This award is definitely an honour for the country, particularly Sabah,” he added.
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* Google Malaysia denied awarding any money or project to Yusrim over his translation app.