Simple Prototype Input Boxes featuring Makey Makey

In our search to democratize game design, our lab has been exploring the Makey Makey as a simple way to create your own “alternative controller.” The appeal in good part is that any old physical switch or button can be hooked up and function similarly to the arrow keys on a computer (plug-and-play!).

Plenty of folks have neat experiments to share. And we are equally interested in their tactics for rapid prototyping using cardboard, paper, and foil.

Audio with word triggers are very powerful for events and games. Here’s Colleen Graves, a teacher who made an interactive word wall for her elementary students, showing the use of these triggers in an educational context:

We are currently in early rounds of testing the Makey Makey while maintaining the direct keyboard mapping, including the use of LED arcade buttons. One dream is to achieve plug-and-play integration with programs like Scratch or systems like our own Hive Mechanic. With plug-and-play integration, using the Makey Makey to trigger sound with an arcade button can open up creativity to make anything from a public issue poll to a phone hotline, all in a box.

There are some big ideas – and fascinating user experiences to consider. In a city context, the feel of a rugged prototype can lend an air of authenticity to something like a public issue poll being run at a farmers market. Objects in public space that seem familiar tend to make people feel less intimidated rather than some high-tech, digital solution. By adding in minimal technology, objects in public space can retain their familiarity while affording the conveniences of technology for things like public issue polls.