Finland is included in the top 10 innovative countries in the world in Global Innovation Index (GII). Finland excels in technology and high-tech solutions, and Finnish innovations such as Linux and text messaging have shaped the world. The country has an innate spirit for innovation and companies such as KONE (elevator solutions) and Rovio (Angry Birds) show the diversity of Finnish ingenuity. However, not all innovations are involved with technology, in fact, some major Finnish innovations are practical and designed for the everyday use.
Heart rate monitor
The story of the heart rate monitor started in 1975 when Seppo Säynäjäkangas (Professor of Electronics, University of Oulu) was skiing and wondering how it could be possible to monitor your heart beat yourself. The idea of a small heart rate monitor was born. It is maybe the first piece of wearable tech ever invented and today heart rate monitors are used by everyone from professional athletes to everyday joes to track their heart rate and improve their performance.
In the early 70s, Finnish scientists started researching the natural sweetener xylitol and its capacity to dramatically reduce dental plaque. They soon developed and launched the xylitol chewing gum in 1975 which today is arguably the world’s first health-improving food product.
Did you know that the Finnish xylitol comes from birch trees?
Called as the cheapest life insurance one can have, reflectors are an essential accessory to wear outside when it is dark. And as it gets extremely dark during wintertime in Finland, it is no surprise that this innovation originates from here. Arvi Lehti a farmer from Southern Finland invented reflectors so he could see his horse carriages better. Today this innovation is well-known in the Nordic countries and actively used during the dark winter.
Did you know that if you wear a reflector in the dark, cars can spot you from 300 meters away instead of 100 meters without the reflector?
World famous “baby boxes” have improved the lives of newborn babies and their mothers ever since their launch in 1938. The box includes clothes for summer and winter, a duvet, cuddly toy, a bib etc. Additionally, the box itself can be used as a cradle. Expecting mothers are offered two options they can either choose from: money (equivalent to the value of the maternity box) or the box itself. Even today the box is the more popular option; 95% of mothers choose it over money.
Flight recorder, “the black box”
The first modern flight recorder was created in 1942 by a Finnish aviation engineer Veijo Hietala. This black high-tech mechanical box was able to record all important aviation details during test flights of World War II fighter aircraft that the Finnish army repaired or built.
Free comprehensive education
Alright, Finland didn’t invent education but what Finland did invent is to make it a basic human right for all its citizens. That’s why Finnish law guarantees free, high-quality, nine-year basic education in municipal-run schools to every child, regardless of where they live or the wealth of their parents. After the basic education, around half of the students go to high school and half into vocational education, which is also free – as is university education.
Find out more what studying in Finland is like.
Want to be the creator of the next big innovation? Come to Finland to study and soak up in the innovative atmosphere!