A Digital Tool that Brings your Imagination to Life

Last week’s Interactive Exhibit Design class was definitely unlike any other university class I have experienced. It pushed the boundary of a general lecture, and allowed us to play and create with the digital tools, cardboard, tin foil and other craft pieces to construct our own Makey Makey creation. As a great lover of arts and crafts time, this class was a lot of fun and brought me back to my elementary school days…well while playing with an extremely cool digital tool. The Makey Makey device when it is hooked up via USB it takes the controls of your keyboard, and allows for a variety of creative items to act as the keyboard controller through alligator clips. The picture below shows the little Makey Makey control pad, the yellow and green alligator clips are controlling the left and right arrow keys, while the black alligator clip is acting as the ground.

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The task of the class was to utilize the Makey Makey device in a creative way…after considerable thought with Oliver (Makey Makey team collaborator) we decide to create a game controller, which could be used to play Atari Breakout. Using cardboard, tin foil, metal clips, permanent marker, hinges and lots of double sided sticky tape, our idea came to life…and surprisingly worked really well!

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In order for the game control to function in coordination with the computer, the alligator clips needed to be attached to a conductive material, thus the use of the tin foil and metal clips, while the black (ground) alligator clip needed to be attached to the player, in order to complete the circuit (note the tin foil ring). Through attaching the left arrow pad on the Makey Makey, using the alligator clip, to the left side of the game controller; which was attached by a metal clip, that had a conductive tin foil ball on top, the left hand when pressed down on the game controller, would be able to control the computer’s left arrow key, easily moving that little Atari deflective board on the screen. Similarly the same operation and consturction was used on the right side. Oliver and I were both amazed at what this little Makey Makey device could do, and we were only half as creative as some of the children featured in the Makey Makey gallery.

The Makey Makey team states on their webpage, “We believe that everyone is creative, inventive, and imaginative. We believe that everyone can create the future and change the world. So we have dedicated our lives to making easy-to-use invention kits.” I completely agree that creativity is very important in society, as it designs great buildings, cars, and bridges, produces magnificent art pieces, literature and movies, and new innovations like the Dyson Ball vacuum. Generations after generations have been creative and advanced society, the Makey Makey helps to continue that trend into the future, even having a great affect on a masters university class.

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