Standing before a massive wall with over 2,500 little RGB LEDs are Jared and Joey Ficklin, handing out paintbrushes. With brush in hand, people walk up to the wall and begin to stroke the surface. The tiny embedded LEDs flicker and change color to match the paintbrush. Smiles appear and the real painting begins.
Starting with multicolored tea candles, the Ficklin brothers hacked and soldered together this system. It is made from individual color changing tea lights. They initially came with a remote that allows you to set the color, but the Ficklins had another idea. They made a tiny circuit that emulates the pulses of IR light from the remote. They then mounted these circuits onto paintbrushes and locked them on to specific colors. If the handle of the paintbrush is red, it will turn the lights red. If it is green, so changes the light.
This interaction between a digital display and an analog interface like a paintbrush is fun and often surprising for the people that walk up. They start with a few timid strokes but quickly move into broad sweeps of color. It was interesting to see how someone would begin to create a recognizable shape and others would quickly jump in and participate in the construction, only to have it decimated moments later by another person.