Internet use in more languages

Dr Tan Tin Wee's work enabled non-English languages to be displayed in Internet browsers.
Dr Tan Tin Wee's work enabled non-English languages to be displayed in Internet browsers.ST FILE PHOTO

Who: Dr Tan Tin Wee, NUS associate professor of biochemistry and chair of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Computational Resource Centre.

Notable achievement: Inducted into the global non-profit Internet Society's inaugural Hall of Fame in 2012; featured in American magazine Wired as one of the people who built the Internet.

Prof Tan, who is in his 50s, pioneered a slew of technologies that has made the Internet accessible to non-English speakers around the world.

In 1994, taking advantage of the fact that fonts for the Chinese language already existed, Prof Tan and his team wrote a program that would match the code for each character to its corresponding image, and then piece the images into a bigger picture that could be displayed in Internet browsers.

They extended this concept to the Tamil language, and in 1995 demonstrated their work by displaying Singapore's National Pledge online in Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil.

Keen to see how the Internet could benefit children with disabilities, he also personally wired up the Singapore School for the Deaf.

He is now pioneering the use of new technologies for computers to communicate online.

Sim Shuzhen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2015, with the headline 'Internet use in more languages'. Print Edition | Subscribe