At HeatSync Labs, the tables are littered with computer chips, pens, pads and tools while the room is abuzz with the chatter of would-be inventors hoping to change the world — or just make cool things. They are part of a growing global movement of so-called hackerspaces.
The idea for places where people could experiment began to take shape in the U.S. after Mitch Altman, 57, founder of a similar setup in San Francisco called Noisebridge, and other Americans attended a 2007 computing conference in Germany where panelists spoke of their own hackerspaces. Altman returned home, met with fellow tinkerers and rented a space for Noisebridge the next year.
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Similar workshops were opening up across the country and dozens more have popped up since. More than 1,600 are now operating worldwide.