GEORGE TOWN: While most boys his age are just learning about computers, 13-year-old Lim Wern Jie has already developed over 50 apps.
What more, the self-taught coding wizard has received a total of 600,000 downloads, mainly from the United States and Britain, of 14 of his applications that were successfully created and published on the Apple App Store.
At US$0.99 (RM4.40) a download, that would have netted him close to US$595,000 or about RM2.65mil. However, most of his apps have been free until recently.
Wern Jie, who learnt how to develop apps by watching tutorials on YouTube, said his most successful application was the Phone Security Alarm, his first iOS-based app that was successfully published on the App Store on Oct 1, 2015. It was his first paid app. Several others have only become paid apps last week.
“I started developing the Phone Security Alarm app at the age of 12, just before my UPSR examinations.
“I thought of creating it as I kept losing my phone. When I place my phone in my pocket, it can sometimes fall out.
“I also have mischievous friends who will hide my phone when I am not looking,” Wern Jie said sheepishly when met at the e-Gate in Lebuh Tunku Kudin 2, Gelugor, yesterday.
Another notable app created by Wern Jie, which also happens to be his favourite, is the Personal Diary, also an iOS-based app.
“It is a simple diary app that allows you to write your daily memories and events. You can also set the mood and weather for the day.
“I like it because it is designed for everyone to use, ranging from children to the elderly and even the blind,” he said.
In December 2015, Wern Jie, possibly one of the youngest app-makers in the country, was featured in Star2.
That story caught the attention of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), which then approached him to be a participant of the #mydigitalmaker movement, an initiative to create future digital makers by exposing Malaysian youths to the creative and innovative aspects of digital technology.
This includes skills such as coding, app development, 3D printing, robotics, embedded programming and data analytics.
The #mydigitalmaker movement, an initiative to create a nation of digital makers, was launched by MDEC last year.
This movement was carried out in partnership with the Education Ministry and through the support of the private sector and academia to expose Malaysian youths to the creative and innovative aspects of digital technology.
The movement has seen encouraging results and has opened doors for young Malaysian students to learn from industry players to help expand their ideas to achieve greater heights.
Through #mydigitalmaker, Wern Jie, who studies at SMJK Jit Sin in Bukit Mertajam, was also able to be a part of the accelerator sessions held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Wern Jie’s latest feat came when he combined application development with Rero robotics kit.
His mother, business manager Jacqueline Tan, in her early 40s, said her son’s breakthrough was when he won the Best Programming Award, Best Design and Grand Prize at the Rero Robot’s Got Talent Online Competition last year.
“He also took home the first-runner up prize at the Rero Annual Championship for the task-oriented Robot Mine Cart during the Kuala Lumpur Engineering and Science Fair in November last year,” she added.
Wern Jie, who aspires to be a software developer, said it was not difficult to learn coding “these days” as there are plenty of online tutorials.
“It’s like English. If you understand English, you can probably catch up with modern coding these days.”