If you thought a banana was a just a piece of fruit, think again: it can be your new touchpad, thanks to Makey Makey, a keychain-sized gizmo that turns everyday objects into touch-enabled “buttons”. The quirky gadget plugs into a computer USB port through its cable, with an alligator clip attached to your preferred everyday item: a donut, Play-Doh, a cup filled with water, and so on. When the object is touched, the device sends an electrical signal to the computer, which it sees as a keyboard or mouse command. Metro spoke to the gadget’s inventor, MIT graduate Jay Silver, whose product is available online for just $19.
What’s the idea behind Makey Makey?
– The idea now is that it works like a multi-tool. I believe the world is a construction kit, and my goal was to create a tool that would change the world by allowing everyone to be an inventor.
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But do I have to use some application for it to work?
– We provide some easy-to-use apps on our website, but there is no propriety software necessary – just plug in and create with the world around you!
Is the gizmo geared for kids?
– We say it's for ages eight to infinity on the box, but that’s because we are required to – in reality we believe the age range is more like three to infinity.
What kind of things can be done with the Makey Makey?
– There is no limit to what can be done with our gadget. A person is limited only by their creativity and curiosity. Create, experiment, fail, learn, grow, explore and create again. This is also the best thing about Makey Makey.
Do you intend that it could be used in schools and universities?
– Schools, universities and computer clubs all around the world already have been incorporating the Makey Makey into their core curriculum to help teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills. I truly believe there are few things that support both a healthy education of science and math, and provide a tool to explore creativity. Well, did I mention that it's actually real fun to play with?
Are you concerned that a gadget like this could encourage more gaming and its resultant addiction?
– No. Makey Makey offers a way to engage with the physical world in a magical and educational way that many current technologies don't provide. Technology should make our lives easier. You still need to have balance in your life and develop people skills, play sports, smell the roses, etc. We live in a world where resources are limited and the need for a science education is at an all-time high, so our device is an ideal tool for now and tomorrow.