If the iPad, Microsoft Surface and the whole range of touch enabled devices isn’t enough for you, then perhaps this invention called MaKey MaKey by designers Eric Rosenbaum and Jay Silver of the Minty Geek Electronics Lab would interest you. The open source hardware project can basically turn any surface into a touchpad which means you can type out short messages, play software-based instruments, control onscreen gaming action by turning objects like Play-Doh, coins and even bananas into objects that can produce the same functions as mouse clicks and computer keyboard keys. Human Interface Device (HID) protocol then sends input commands to the computer.
Having been two years in the making, the Makey Makey is based on the research of the Lifelong Kindergarten from the Media Lab at MIT. The entire invention features alligator clips attached to six inputs on a printed board’s front end. These are used to serve the functions of the left button of a mouse, space bar on a computer keyboard and the arrow keys. The alligator clips can be attached to any object that is conducive to electrical conduction to make the Makey Makey work its magic. To enable detection of a closed circuit, high resistance switching is used in the project with an Arduino Leonardo bootloader being used to run the ATMega32u4 microcontroller on the custom board.
Once you have prepared yourself a custom touch interface using the objects of your choice, you can use alphabet pasta to send out status updates or short emails, control on-screen game play by interacting with shapes drawn on a piece of paper with a pencil, touch icons made of Play-Doh to control screen activity or even use a bunch of bananas to play piano notes! The developers intend to refine the prototype even further with manufacturing partners Sparkfun offering the Makey Makey kit-featuring the cables, clips and the board- at around $35 a piece.