MaKey MaKey Turns Everyday Objects into a Touch Interface
By Kevin Lee
MaKey MaKey is a new Arduino interface board that let’s you convert everyday objects into touch-based input contraptions. Instead of using your mundane keyboard and mouse, this board lets you type and click with odd objects like pennies and candy, for example.
Here’s how the system works: The MaKey MaKey board connects to your computer via USB (without any additional software), as well as to whatever controller interface you want via a set of alligator clips. It can connect with up to six objects that conduct even the tiniest bit of electricity, so most metals and food items are fair game. You can also make it work with non-conductive objects by applying some copper tape or spritzing them with water.
The idea is that you can use the MaKey MaKey board for a host of crazy, inventive experiments with any computer programs you’re using or websites you might visit. You could play the keyboard with bananas, turn alphabet soup noodles into an abbreviated keyboard, or play a game of Mario using a Play-Doh-based controller.
Since MaKey MaKey is actually an ATMega32u4 microcontroller running Arduino Leonardo bootloader, you can use it without a computer bridge to directly control a fan, a series of LEDs, or whatever Arduino setup you might make. You can also reprogram its functionality in the Arduino environment.
The MaKey MaKey project is the brainchild of MIT Media Lab students Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum. Although the Kickstarter project has far surpassed its $25,000 funding goal, you can still get a MaKey MaKey with everything for $35.
You can also try using the MaKey MaKey yourself if you’re going to the Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend, May 19 and 20.