A wireless microphone encased in a satellite shaped nerf-ball. That's the solution to audience participation problems at public events developed by Design Continuum and M.I.T - the Sputmik. A pun on the early Russian satellite it resembles in shape, the Sputmik (pronounced "sput-mike") is robust enough to be tossed around a room and brightly lit for maximum visibility in darkened spaces. The concept is designed to allow participants to easily and safely air their views at meetings, lectures and live broadcasts. Let's just hope Jerry Springer doesn't find out.
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The "arms" of the basketball-sized Sputmik all glow when the microphone is not in use, but when the microphone is operated by depressing a button on the central section, all of the lights except for the one adjacent to the microphone automatically switch-off. Once the button is released the Sputmik re-lights and its off-across the room again like a beach ball at the cricket.
Originally proposed by Ted Selker at the MIT Media Lab, the idea was refined by Continuum which developed the current prototypes.