Joe Rowley considers himself open-minded, especially when it comes to Altoids tins. "I'm a high school kid free of mint tin preconceptions," he says [source: Rowley]. In other words, when Joe Rowley looks at an old Altoids tin, he doesn't see just a charming metal box that formerly housed the world-famous mints. Instead, he sees all kinds of ways that they can be refitted and reborn into entirely new things. This places Rowley firmly in the subculture of tinnovators -- people who find creative ways to use old Altoids tins. "The mints are great and the empty tins have thousands of uses," he says [source: Rowley].
Although Joe's just getting started in the world of tinnovation, he's no newcomer to creation. "I love building and tinkering in my free time and have been doing it for years," he says [source: Rowley]. He's also been acquainted with Altoids mints for some time as well, having been given them as a reward for staying quiet during long car trips with the family. One can imagine that it was merely a matter of time before Joe Rowley's love of innovation and his fondness for the mints came together into an Altoids-centered design project.
Already, Rowley has future projects lined up in his mind. We can look forward to Altoids tin flashlights, tree planting kits nestled in Altoids tins and, perhaps coolest of all, an Altoids tin roaming cellular-based Wi-Fi network. Rowley also sees a good use for the old tins themselves: He wants to send them to kids in other countries to expand the global reach of tinnovation. He says that he wants "to make the world a better place for future generations by reducing and reusing our renewable resources -- preferably through electronic projects" [source: Rowley].
In the meantime, Joe's come up with a clever use for old Altoids tins: He uses them as housing for keychain universal remote controls. Learn how to make one on the next page.