BEIRUT: Two young Lebanese have made their way on to the “35 innovators under 35” list issued by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to highlight the most promising inventors of the year.
Fadel Adib, a 25-year-old from Tripoli, has invented a new technology for detecting the movements of people from a different room using WIFI signals.
The list said Adib’s research could change technological perspectives in his field.
In 2011, Adib received his undergraduate degree in computer engineering with a minor in mathematics from the American University of Beirut, and later moved to MIT for to complete a masters degree in computer science. Now in his third year, Adib is focusing on improving wireless technologies and creating innovative products using them.
It is not surprising that Adib's work caught the attention of American scientists, universities and eventually the media. Ranking first during all his semesters at AUB, Adib has the highest cumulative GPA in the digitally-recorded history of Lebanon’s leading university.
Adib was not the only Lebanese to be recognized. Lebanese-Canadian Ayah Bdeir, who grew up in Beirut and also studied at AUB, founded her own company called “littleBits” in New York City several years ago.
Combining arts and electronic technology, littleBits are educational toys that have been compared to electrified Legos that stick together with magnets. So far, they have found their way to 70 countries.
littleBits sells a kit of different electronic pieces that the user can sort into different combinations to get different results. The wide range of possibilities provided by this simple learning tool allows people of all ages to feel involved, by creating robots and circuits as complicated as they want.
The company also recently added a new concept called “Cloud bit”, which allows users to create prototypes that are connected to the Internet. A video on its website suggests a user could feed his or her fish through an application on an smartphone.
Before creating littleBits, she had been a longtime advocate of open source hardware and software to make education and innovation more accessible to people around the world. In this vein, she co-founded the Open Hardware Summit and founded Karaj, Beirut’s first nonprofit lab for experimental arts, architecture and technology.
Bdeir is also a co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit, a TED Senior Fellow and an alumna of the MIT Media Lab. Bdeir was named one of Inc. Magazine’s 35 Under 35, one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and one of Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream. littleBits was named as one of CNN’s top 10 Emerging Startups to watch.