Finnish inventions

Finnish people are an innovative nation, and there are some interesting creations originally developed by Finns that are still in use in many people’s everyday life today. Through time these innovations may have developed for example together with technology, however the original idea has come from a Finnish person. In this blog post we share a few of much used Finnish inventions. 

Text message

During modern day sending a normal text message is less common than sending a message through an online messaging provider.  However, it all started from traditional text messages. Matti Makkonen, a Finnish product developer has been named as “the father of text messages” and he first proposed the idea of text messages to his team in 1984. The development process took some time, but in the beginning of 1990s GSM-services were opened which also included text messages. Text messages became instantly popular, especially among younger generations and it is safe to say that this trend has also lasted until these days. 

As a humble Finnish man Makkonen never patented his invention, however his hard work was rewarded with The Economist magazine’s The Economist’s Computing & Telecommunication Award in 2008. 

Drying cabinet for dishes

One innovation that can be found pretty much in every Finnsih household, however not so commonly abroad is the drying cabinet for dishes. This invention was created by a Finnish domestic science teacher Maiju Gebhard during the years 1944-1945. This cabinet comes in handy when there is no dishwasher in the house and therefore dishes are hand washed. After washing, dishes are placed in the cabinet that normally is above the sink area and they are left there for some time to dry. After a while, dry dishes can be placed back on their normal places in the cupboards. This saves some time and extra hassle with not having to towel dry all.

Photo: Arkistolaitos

Xylitol chewing gum

Xylitol is a popular sweetener that is used as a food additive or sugar substitute. It was first found in nature around the world, however Finland was the first country to develop a way to make it industrially. In 1975 the first xylitol chewing gum Jenkki was launched. It is still a popular chewing gum brand especially in Finland. In general xylitol is believed to protect teeth from caries when used regularly and it is recommended by dentists all over the world.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Credit)

Heart rate monitor

Heart rate monitor is a popular device by everyone who wants to follow their performance during working out. The first portable heart rate monitor was created and patented by Seppo Säynäjäkangas in 1975. The original heart rate monitor consisted of a belt that measures the heart rate and that is attached on the person’s chest, and a watch type device kept on the wrist to follow the results. The first portable heart rate monitors came to the shops in 1982 and they were made by a Finnish brand Polar, which was founded by Seppo Säynäjäkangas himself. The original heart rate monitoring has developed throughout the years, and commonly it is only needed to wear a watch-like device on the wrist to receive similar results, yet it is not uncommon to use the older method either for more precise measurements. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Credit)

Pulled oats

Different vegetarian and vegan products have been popular for the past decade and there are many different variations developed for conscious consumers who want to take a sustainable step by eating plant based food. Pullet oats are a plant protein which has no additives, and can be used as a substitute for other protein sources such as meat. Pulled oats was an innovation by two Finnish women Maija Itkonen and Reetta Kivelä, who are the founders of Gold & Green Foods. Pulled oats is a rather new innovation as it was brought to the markets in 2015, however it immediately gained huge success and is still popular around the world. 


Maybe one of the most known inventions is of course the sauna. The earliest version of sauna is believed to be found thousands of years ago. It was used for everything in daily lives of the Finns; living, eating, bathing, and even giving birth in. For Finnish people, a sauna is often part of physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being. You can read more about the Finnish sauna culture from the What is a Sauna – the Cornerstone of Finnish Culture? on our blog and also find some interesting options to visit a sauna in Helsinki. 

Photo: Asko Kuittinen/Visit Finland