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Beirut’s new hackerspace nurtures invention ideas

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Lamba Labs, a creative "hackerspace" in Beirut that opened about a month ago, wants to be the place where inventors and developers share and improve their ideas with like-minded people.

“Lamba Labs is Beirut's first hackerspace connected to all hackerspaces in the world. It is a movement for the hacker community, and ‘hacker’ in the meaning of inventor or creator, not in the meaning of computer hacker who hacks into Facebook. Lamba Labs brings together engineers, artists and architects to come here in this space create and share ideas,” explains Lamba Labs’ co-director Marc Farra.

The not-for-profit organization is directed by two young engineers, Farra and Maya Kreidieh, who founded the hackerspace along with some other friends from different university majors.

“Lamba Labs is a community, so there are a lot of projects that members already have and want to improve. There are a lot of tools here that they can use to improve their projects, like 3D printing, laser cutting or electronics. There are also a lot of people whom they can collaborate with,” adds Farra.

Members of the hackerspace use a space called “Karaj” -- Arabic for garage -- the first non-profit media lab for experimental arts, architecture and technology in Beirut. They gather and meet twice a week on a regular basis, but the space is always open for members who want to work on their individual or group projects.

Lamba Labs’ usual Tuesday evening gatherings are designed for meeting new people and having fun, its founders say. But Thursday evenings are for work, so members can learn at least one new thing every week.

“I decided to be a member of Lamba Labs because it is been a while that I am looking for a place where we can cooperate with people from different backgrounds, so we can work and create together, and maybe invent new things that don't exist in the market in Lebanon, though there are a lot of creative people who have abilities,'” says Tamima Armanazi.

One workshop, entitled ‘BristleBot Robo Race’, is about building a robot from bristles of toothbrushes that has a pager motor fixed to it which moves by vibration through the bristles.

“This is so important for Lebanon, because there is a change in concept from consumption to production. People don’t want to consume anymore, they want to start doing things themselves, build companies, do their own products, so we need a place where people can meet and learn new things, because this can help them start to nurture their ideas so they can make products,'” says co-director Maya Kreidieh.

Treasurer of Lamba Labs Bassam Jalgha and Sevag Babikian - the so called “toy master”' of the group - are among the people who started Lamba Labs.

One of their current projects is a beverage-serving robot they call 'Emily the waiter ‘robot’, an idea conceived at the launch of a new local beer. The duo plan to develop the machine for future marketing, and they've turned to Lamba Labs and its members for feedback.

Since its debut, the hackerspace now has about 30 active members, and new members are joining every week, Jalgha and Babikian say.