New Toys for Christmas 2014:
The MaKey MaKey is a unique toy. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to really call it just a “toy.” It’s more of an invention kit, and the fun of it comes from all the crazy things it can do. It is the product of a very successful Kickstarter campaign by Jay Silver, from a company called JoyLabz.
The idea behind the MaKey MaKey is that it allows any object that can conduct a slight amount of electricity as a touchpad. In other words, it makes your computer recognize the things you connect to it as keys on a keyboard. Got a Piano app? Connect the MaKey MaKey to a variety of different objects to create physical keys to interact with the piano. What about a Dance game? Fashion a glove outfitted with some electrical tape and you can play it with your hands…or, if you want to get really creative, you can make an actual dance pad.
The device itself appears to be a cross between a circuit board and an old-fashioned Nintendo controller. with 4 directional points and 2 more points for Space and Click. If you want to get more functionality, no problem. Flip it over and you’ll discover a variety of additional options on the back. Once you’ve assembled your “keys”, just plug the MaKey MaKey itself into a USB port on your computer. After it loads up, your computer will recognize any commands given to it via the objects, no programming or software required.
Who Is This For?
Anyone. No, really.
It is also good for people interested in learning about Arduino (If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, you don’t need to.)
8 and older. The alligator clips alone warrant a potential choking hazard. But with careful supervision, a younger child with a real interest could use it, and certainly anyone else with no upper age limit.
Things We Like
It’s a very nifty tool with a lot of fun applications. Draw out some keys with pencil on paper to make a paper controller. Attach the alligator clips to some bananas for a banana piano. The beauty of the MaKey MaKey kit is that its potential uses are limited only by your imagination.
Things We Don’t Like
Realistically, in most situations the MaKey MaKey is strictly for fun. Most of the functionality it provides can be far more efficiently done on a keyboard. The only real places this is not the case are if you do things such as use it to create the aforementioned dance pad for a game like Dance Dance Revolution. It is highly entertaining, along with highly impractical in most circumstances. Your mileage may vary.
Also, to get the most out of your device, you will likely need to purchase additional alligator clips. The MaKey MaKey itself comes with seven, so anything you wish to design requiring more than that will require more clips. You can purchase these at Amazon.com, or Home Depot, or virtually any general retailer.
The standard kit costs $49.95 and includes one MaKey MaKey HID Board, seven alligator clips, six connector wires, instructions and 20 color stickers for your creations.
I could not find any evidence of a warranty.
Is It Worth The Money?
If you are interested in making fun, silly creations, the MaKey MaKey kit is a relatively inexpensive product with a large amount of creative potential. If you are looking for practicality, unless you wish to design a very specific thing, you’re probably better off sticking with a keyboard.
Where Can I Buy?
The MaKey MaKey kit is available directly from JoyLabz website, along with larger internet retailers such as Amazon and Newegg. It can also be found on sites that sell “geeky” products, such as ThinkGeek.
Very cool, very interesting concept with some very limited practical use. Get one for the fun, not for the efficiency.