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2/16/2006
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'Throwies' Put Open Source Spin On Graffiti

The small devices attach to any magnetic surface, such as a metallic wall, and turn it into a space filled with tiny colorful lights. The idea: express yourself while doing no harm.

If you see tiny lights glowing on the side of a building, it may be the work of graffiti artists using "Throwies," a device developed by creative types looking to add color to your neighborhood.

Developed by Graffiti Research Lab, a division of New York-based Eyebeam OpenLab, a Throwie includes a lithium battery and a 10mm light-emitting diode that are attached to each other with magnet tape, according to the Web site Instructables, which was launched by engineering design and technology firm Squid Labs of Emeryville. Calif.

The idea behind Throwies is to toss the small devices on to any magnetic surface, such as a metallic wall, and turn it into a space filled with tiny colorful lights.

"Throw it up high and in quantity to impress your friends and city officials," the Instructables site says in giving a how-to on making and using Throwies.

A video on the homepage of Graffit Research Lab shows a group of a dozen young people plastering a building with Throwies. The video ends with the tagline "Graffiti ... alter your surroundings."

The Graffiti Research Lab site promoting Throwies is schedule to launch officially Feb. 21. Eyebeam OpenLab wasn't immediately available for comment. The latter group says it is comprised of artists, engineers, and hackers "pioneering open-source creativity." OpenLab focuses on incubating experimental technologies and media, and gets funding from the MacArthur Foundation, the group's Web site says.

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