Saturday, August 25, 2012

Exhibit Design Inspiration: MaKey MaKey

Woohoo! I just received a cool red cardboard box filled with near infinite possibilities in the mail.

I was a Kickstarter backer of a neat project called MaKey MaKey.  In exchange for backing the MaKey MaKey guys (two MIT Media Lab students) I received a set of stuff like that pictured below (a MaKey MaKey board, a USB connector, and a set of alligator clips) to connect my computer to the real world with real objects (like bananas, PlayDoh, coins, or anything else that is at least a little bit conductive.)

Basically you can make a physical object act like a computer key (hence MaKey MaKey) to cause other things to happen. Watching the video at the top of this post (you can also watch it on YouTube) gives you some fun examples like an electronic piano using bananas as keys.

This is all great news for exhibit designers who don't want to become computer geeks or code monkeys.  (Even though the MaKey MaKey board is built using Arduino, an open-source way of connecting computers with the physical world.)  The idea of using physical objects as HCI (Human Computer Interfaces) isn't new, but MaKey MaKey makes it much easier and cheaper than before.  In addition,  MaKey MaKey boards are a great tool for prototyping exhibit ideas that involve electronics, computers, or other digital media.

You can find out more about any of the groups or things mentioned in this post by clicking on any of the links above, but for now I'm off to start playing with my MaKey MaKey!  (I'll show off some of my own MaKey MaKey projects in future ExhibiTricks posts, or feel free to email me if you're doing cool stuff with MaKey MaKey that you'd like to share as well!)

P.S. Even if you weren't a Kickstarter backer of MaKey Makey, you can pre-order a basic kit for just $39.99 via their website.

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