As you all know, two Lebanese have made their way to the “35 innovators under 35″ list issued by MIT to hightlight the most promising inventors of the years. The first one is Ayah Bdeir who founded Littlebits back in 2011 and has been named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and one of Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream. She’s been also ranked the 9th sexiest startup CEO alive.
The second Lebanese is Fadel Adib who’s originally from Tripoli. Adib has invented a technology for detecting the motion of people through walls by detecting WIFI signals. I think it’s a very interesting idea with a lot of potential.
One thing that caught my attention was how Adib felt shocked that he was able to focus all the time on research during his MIT years, unlike in Lebanon where he had to cope with explosions and violence during his AUB years. I think this pretty much sums up why so many Lebanese choose to leave the country to show their true potential and excel.
“In one of our projects, we were just making our Wi-Fi faster by maximizing throughput between nodes. Every once in a while, the system would get messed up, and we would stop getting good results. We realized that there was some person walking in the hallway, and that person’s walking was basically changing the channel.
“If I shine a wireless signal at the wall, a huge amount of this signal is going to reflect off the wall. A tiny part of that signal will traverse the wall, reflect off anything that’s behind it, and then come back. We realized that we can sense motion using these wireless signals, and that’s how we started working on seeing through walls.
“You can track people as they move. You can monitor multiple people’s heart rates and breathing. Retail stores that want to understand how people are moving in their stores can track when a person reaches out for a product, looks at it, and puts it back. The police could track if there’s a person behind a wall. One of the applications we’re thinking of: can you monitor the heart rate of a fetus in the mother’s womb without touching the body in any way?
“When I went home to Lebanon and I was talking to my grandmother about it, she was like, ‘So, for example, can I put it over here in my living room, and if I fall in the bedroom or in the bathroom, it’s going to going to detect my fall and send an SMS to one of my children? Please, make this a product and put it here.’”