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MaKey MaKey

Invention Kit

Everyone Invents

Feed your inner inventor (or inspire a future inventor) with an almost-too-cool-to-believe tool that lets you turn chess pieces into computer keys or use pots and pans to play digital drums.

MaKey MaKey gives digital life to inanimate objects -- food, plants, coins, lead, toys, cutlery, and more. With the kit, you can transform any object that can conduct electricity into a touch interface or computer keyboard controller. The
inventors are Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, who are final-year PhD students at the famed MIT Media Lab. Jay and Eric believe that everyone is inventive and imaginative, and they’ve dedicated themselves to making user-friendly kits that fuel the world’s creativity.

The MaKey MaKey kit includes a circuit board, USB cable, 7 alligator clips, and 6 connector wires. When you clip one of the connector wires to an object, you’re assigning a specific keyboard control to that object. So if you press the banana or baseball (or whatever you’ve picked), your computer thinks you’re pressing a keyboard key and it performs the action. Pressing a penny could type a “p”, for example. Or, you could set up your own controls for an online game using four marshmallows to represent the left, right, up and down arrows on a keyboard. You can even connect people: If you connect one person to ground, and another to an input, you can trigger sounds when they high-five.

The only limit is your imagination.

-Ann
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MaKey MaKey - Invention Kit

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Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Jay
    Jay

    Hi I'm Jay Silver. Questions are better than answers, so hopefully we all leave with more questions than we have now. I invented the MaKey MaKey with Eric Rosenbaum while we were students at MIT Media Lab. Want to talk about the Maker Movement? Creative Confidence? Why it's so fun to shoot electricity through water? The meaning of education? The meaning of life? Let's begin!

  • Perii
    Perii
    12/3/12 1:00 PM

    I'm still a bit confused... Must the connection be with your computer?? If so, how was the musical staircase created? I mean, I wouldn't want to leave my computer near the stairs when I want to use it elsewhere and I wouldn't want miles of wires stretching across my house to reach the staircase. Please explain.

  • Amy
    Amy – Grommet Team
    12/3/12 1:51 PM

    @Perii Owen Hi Perri, sorry for the delay. Jay had to step out for a few minutes but should be back shortly with the answer to your question.

  • Amy
    Amy – Grommet Team
    12/3/12 2:01 PM

    @Perii Owen Hi Perry, yes this must be connected to your computer. You should be able to buy extension alligator cables or use conductive wire to connect the MaKey to the staircase. Jay should be returning shortly to further explain.

  • Jay
    Jay – Special Guest
    12/3/12 2:18 PM

    @Perii Owen -- Hi Perii! Yes you have to have it connected to your computer by a USB cable. In the piano stairs scenario you can see the computer sitting there by the stairs. Of course this is not very practical. Most things made with MaKey MaKey are temporary. But if you wanted it to be a permanent installation you could use an old laptop, or buy a very cheap/old netbook/desktop. Then you could run copper tape instead of wires so that it was flat. In any case MaKey MaKey is not necessarily made for permanent installations. It's all about making, taking apart, and making again. If you want to go more wireless, SparkFun sells a bluetooth module just for MaKey MaKey that can communicate to tablets and laptops without the USB cable. I hope this helps.

  •  Cindy
    Cindy
    12/3/12 2:05 PM

    What ages is this appropriate for? I didn't see this listed.

  • Jay
    Jay – Special Guest
    12/3/12 2:22 PM

    @ Cindy -- This is always a tough question. We have just started to put "Ages 12+" on the package. It will really depend of course on the person. Very small people have had fun with MaKey MaKey in coordination with their adult friends. And designers at IDEO who do this for a living have had fun using MaKey MaKey to prototype designs. Is your 8 year old really into this kind of thing? Could be great. Is your 20 year old an engineer? Could be great. Do you secretly want your stairs to be pianos? Great. Maybe the age on the package should read "Ages 99 and under"

  •  Darryl
    Darryl
    12/3/12 4:23 PM

    Whoa, Makey Makey and Daily Grommet -- it's like peanut butter meeting chocolate.

    Anywho, just a few questions/points -- the original MaKey MaKey was produced in USA @ SparkFun, right? Guess you're now mass-producing in China? But it's the same design, right? Cool.

    Second, re: iPads, I was following the thread about iPad compatibility. It seems like using non-powered USB hub + Camera Connection Kit does the trick, but this is a little more than just buying "a connector from Apple."

    (In other news -- I need to dig up my non-powered USB hub and try this out!)

  • Jay
    Jay – Special Guest
    12/3/12 5:06 PM

    @ Darryl -- Hey Darryl! We are manufacturing with the same manufacturer as TV B Gone, and yes it is in China. The best route for iPad compatibility seems to be SparkFun's bluetooth module for MaKey MaKey. Although the camera kit is "supposed" to work, I'm not sure if it does or not.

  • Audrey/Ella
    Audrey/Ella
    12/3/12 5:14 PM

    Hi! i an into the Make movement! I would love to see you guys at the San Mateo, CA Maker fair put on by the magazine!!! I have no engineering at all so building thngs like this i can't do. But i am a para educator in Special needs in Newark Ca. I love this kind of stuff because it makes my students ask questions while having fun and they forget they are learning! thank you for developing this so the rest of us can enjoy it too.

    I know i am way behind you but my mind spent time flying through the possiblities for my students. I am at a high school this year but was at an elementary school last year and have had students from all skill levels of need. this would be such a good trainer for those with out speech, it would be a great exerciser promt for those who need it( including stroke patientes) . It would drive the minds of those who are hendered by language barriers! I am off right now after emergency stomach hernia surgery so no money but i will be back to get this with the first work check!! For 3 years i have bought my grandsons Christmas things off of this site! And when i buy him one I always get one too! and use them in my classrooms! Our family are dsylexic learners. learning disabilties have no baring on intellegence! Teachers just have to find different ways to teach these students! My grandson is very much a hands on learner. At the age of 6 My daughter and her family moved because my sonilaw is in the Navy. all the electroinics were dumped in the living room while they unloaded the rest of the truck My grandson stopped my daughter every once and awhile to have her put some piece on a shelf they had just set up from the truck but the afternoon he had everything working the TV, the Video games,the radios multi speakers the camera, and the remotes. So i know this will be right up his alley! he is 9 now. Thank you, thank you, thank you. If you ever want to do demos at the schools out here during science fair time let me know I could set it up in our city! also when i get off i am forwarding this to everyojne I know!! So happy sales!

    Aud PS if you ever need a tester for new products keep me in mind!! lol

  • Amy
    Amy – Grommet Team
    12/4/12 9:31 AM

    @Audrey/Ella Fletcher/Stell Hello there, thank you SO much for your unwavering enthusiasm for MaKey MaKey and Daily Grommet. Please keep us updated on what your grandson thinks of this product for the holidays.

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