It's touch and Go for Makey Makey

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The Makey Makey Go gives this young tinkerer a new wearable

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At about the size of a credit card, the original Makey Makey (now called the Classic) isn't exactly a behemoth, but it's not really something you could wear around your neck or dangle from your ear either. Aiming for portability, the boffins at JoyLabz have redesigned the board, stripping it down to its bare essentials, then adding a magnet (so tinkerers can stick it a fridge door between uses) and some LEDs (for colorful visual feedback), and wrapped it in protective plastic bumpers. The Makey Makey Go is now about the size of a USB thumb drive and, like the original, can be used to turn everyday objects into touch-enabled "buttons" – everything from bananas to someone's ear to jello to a potted plant. So long as it's able to conduct even the tiniest amount of electricity, it's fair game for some Makey Makey magic.

The Makey Makey Go plugs into a laptop or computer USB port and a cable with an alligator clip at each end is placed in one of the two holes inside the red cross. The other clip is attached to the object of choice, which can be anything from a banana to a silver dress ring to play dough to a plastic cup filled with water and so on. When the object is touched, the board sends a signal to the computer, which it recognizes as a keyboard or mouse command (typically a space or left mouse click, though users can remap via a web interface).

This means that if you fancy using a donut as a space bar, have a webcam-enabled computer make a Skype video call when a pooch touches a heart-shaped foil, make a cardboard stringed instrument or have an onscreen virtual version "play" the string being picked or slap a blob of jello every time you need a game character to jump over an obstacle, the portable edutainment tool can help make it happen.

The "play" button on the Makey Makey Go is used when a new object is hooked up to the device, while the "asterisk" or "gear" button is for settings, such as choosing a new key. The 3 x 0.85 in (76.2 x 21.6 mm) board will work with any software, apps and webpages that recognize a keyboard or mouse command, which covers of a lot of creative ground. It has been tested with recent Windows and OS X devices, and the developers report that it will also work with some tablets and smartphones.

Where the Classic has six sensor inputs to the front and 12 on the back, and can activate up to six simultaneous key presses, the Go has only one on the front, but this is capacitive rather than high resistance and there's no need to connect the Go to earth.

As with the Classic, the Makey Makey crew has launched on Kickstarter to take the Go into production. Where the original kit is currently priced at US$49.95 (plus shipping), the Makey Makey Go single kit pledge level has been set at $19. If all goes to plan, delivery is estimated to start in November.

The crowdfunding pitch video can be seen below.

Sources: JoyLabz, Kickstarter

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