Have you ever played music on a banana? Or gave your high-fives a sound effect? MaKey MaKey is a palm-sized device that is revolutionizing the way the Web interacts with the physical world. Created by MIT students Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, the project was funded by Kickstarter. The initial goal was to raise $25k, but the pair ended the campaign with more than half a million dollars. Through three stages of prototype, the current version of MaKey MaKey is available to the public for just $50 which includes a full set-up kit.
Promoting the idea that everyone is a “maker” and an inventor, the MaKey MaKey device works with simple electrical circuitry that uses alligator clips and USB cables that turn just about anything into a touchpad that interacts with a computer. The device itself acts as a conductor that send signals that take the place of keyboard actions. For example, if your game’s character jumps when you press the spacebar, you can set your MaKey MaKey to perform that same action using an external object. Praised as an invention kit for beginners and experts, the device is essentially “plug-and-play” where all you’ll need in addition to the kit is a computer and your imagination.
Keywords / Definitions
- Maker: Someone who transforms everyday materials into new creations
- Touchpad: An electronic device that responds to the touch of a finger to perform an action on a computer
- Plug-and-play: An electronic device that requires little or no setup, simply plug into the computer and use
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MaKey MaKey is an affordable and accessible toolkit for both in- and out-of-school environments. Children as young as seven can create devices that interact with the web everyday objects, like PlayDoh, vegetables, and graphite pencils. More experienced “techies” can partner a MaKey MaKey with Arduino or Raspberry Pi to more complex online tools that respond to physical surroundings. Teachers, parents, and free-range learners can build scaffolds between programs that teach the foundations of computer programming–like Scratch, KidsRuby, or Unity– to create games and websites that complement the MaKey MaKey device.
A group of students can easily work together on a project using just one device, or multiple MaKey MaKeys can be connected to expand their functions. Students with disabilities can find MaKey MaKey to an easy entry point into digital learning due to it’s simple and tactile nature. In addition to being just plain fun to play with, it teaches users basic circuitry concepts,creative thinking, cause and effect, and manipulating online actions. Anyone, whether a novice or a tech savvy consumer, can use MaKey MaKey to ignite the wonder and joy of seeing the world as theirs to reinvent.