Tag Archives: Makey Makey

Touch the banana, get the Wi-Fi password

Bet your office doesn’t share wireless network credentials like this… 

Turns out, bananas aren’t just an excellent source of potassium, they’re also an excellent source of wireless network credentials. Just ask Danish Reddit user and network administrator “Sysvival” who recently decided to use the fruit as a unique way to distribute Wi-Fi passwords to guests at his workplace.


The idea originated after Sysvival was asked to set up a captive portal for his office, like those seen in most hotel chains and coffee shops. The administrator decided to generate a pool of 5,000 passwords, each of which were valid for eight hours of access. These temporary codes are stored on a Raspberry Pi, which is connected to a Makey Makey GO (ATmega32U4) via a USB cable. The Makey Makey forms the a connection between the banana and Pi.

Now, whenever a visitor needs to get onto the Wi-Fi network, all he or she has to do is touch the banana, which triggers the Raspberry Pi to spit out a password on an attached display. When contact is established, the capacitance of the banana drops. The Makey Makey detects this change and interprets it as the press of a key, therefore sending the signal to the Pi that it needs to hand out a password voucher.


Why go through such lengths? According to Sysvival, “It’s fun, it’ll make people smile, it beats a static WPA password in funniness, and when people leave our office, they can’t access our Wi-Fi because there’s no banana to touch.” Intrigued? You can check out the entire project on its Reddit thread here.

Connecting a paper notepad to the Internet of Things

This notepad and pencil use conductive ink to control a Think With Google app.

London-based branding agency MultiAdaptor has designed a paper notepad and pencil that employs conductive ink to control an app for Google’s digital marketing business. The goal of the project was to raise awareness of Think With Google in the creative community by inspiring them to engage with the service’s content in unique fashion. And what better way to do this than by plugging a piece of paper into the Internet?


In order to make the notepad, industrial designer Roland Ellis developed a special (and quite possibly the world’s first) conductive bookbinding glue that connects an Arduino-compatible board (which appears to be an ATmega32U4 based MaKey MaKey) to printed pages without having to use cables or any other parts. Conductive ink was screen-printed onto the paper, which is activated using a standard graphite pencil.

“The digital experience is also designed to reflect the Google brand — something simple and helpful, but playful and innovative, too,” the MultiAdaptor crew explains. “The audience is time-poor, so we made it faster to discover what’s relevant to them, by creating a bespoke ‘edit’ of content with a few ticks or clicks.”


To get started, users plug the notepad into their desktop via a provided USB cable, visit the Think With Google website and check off two options from a list of statements using the pencil, such as “increase brand awareness” or “drive sales.” The interface focuses primarily on four different types of content: deck-ready stats, thought-leading articles, Google business tools and inspiring video content. From there, a user selects the platform that they want to leverage, which includes search, video, mobile and display. Content matching their selection is then shown in a dashboard titled My Edit. From there, users can share a link to their edit or virtually ‘rip’ off a page from the pad and create a new one. Aside from that, the dashboard can be accessed independently and the presentation-friendly interface can be employed in an office environments or at an event.


So far, 1,000 notepads have been printed, assembled and in the process of being shipped to agencies throughout the UK and Italy. Intrigued? Head over to the project’s official page, or watch its overview video below.

This littleBits hoodie will turn you into a walking music machine

This wearable instrument will turn you into a music-making cyborg. 

When it comes to music and fashion, what’s not to love? During Maker Faire Bay Area, we had a blast jamming away to some Iggy Azalea and Jeremih beats on our pair of DrumPants. With so much excitement around the project, we couldn’t help but browse the web for some other Atmel-based, tune-emitting clothing. And just like that, we stumbled upon a recent DIY hoodie from Liza Stark, who has discovered a pretty awesome (and super easy) way to transform herself into a walking instrument as well. The Maker did so by using nothing more than a Makey Makey bit, a littleBits Synth Kit, some conductive fabric and thread, and a little of her own ingenuity.


In order to create the digital sound interface, Stark devised switches out of conductive fabric and then placed them on different parts of a hoodie that her best friend had lying around. One side of the switch is the Makey Makey (ATmega32U4) input, the other ground. When both are touched simultaneously, it closes the switch and triggers a sound from the synth bits attached to the Makey Makey input.


“Play around with the synth bits to determine what configuration you like best,” Stark adds. “Since there are only three outputs, you can get really creative with the connector bits, the mix bit, and speaker bit if you have extra — we’re talking super fun sound textures here.”


The circuit is held together with gaffers tape on the front and back of the bits, while the Makey Makey module is sewn onto the hoodie using conductive thread. Meanwhile, Stark even added a few custom-designed touch pads of her own to the garment.

Intrigued? Check out the Maker’s step-by-step breakdown of the build here, and be sure to watch it in action below!

The Makey Makey GO turns anything into a touchpad from anywhere

Make + Key + On the Go = Makey Makey GO!

Have you ever thought about turning a donut into a keypad, an apple into a drum, a JELL-O mold into a game controller? Or, how about capturing a slip ’n slide selfie or initiating a Skype call with your dog? As wild as some of those ideas may seem, they’re all now possible thanks to the newly-revealed Makey Makey GO.


Since its debut back in 2012, Makey Makey has become a household name among DIYers with their ATmega32U4 based circuit board and alligator clips, which have enabled users to turn practically anything into a touch-sensitive device. Now, the JoyLabz team has returned with the world’s first on-the-go invention kit — letting anyone invent anything from anywhere at anytime. Abiding by many of the same principles as the original kit (known as the “Classic”), GO also allows users to hook up multiple clips.

How it works is pretty straightforward, especially if you’ve ever used its larger sibling. The GO inserts directly into the USB port of any laptop (Mac, Windows, and Linux all supported), while its corresponding alligator clips are used to attach the board to the objects of choice. Once a user taps the items, input is relayed over to the computer, which identifies the Makey Makey unit as a generic USB keyboard or mouse.


“For example, a banana. When you touch the banana the Makey Makey GO sends the computer a keyboard or mouse message. The computer just thinks Makey Makey GO is a regular keyboard or mouse. Therefore it works with all programs and webpages, because all programs and webpages take keyboard and mouse input,” JoyLabz writes.

The thumbdrive-shaped gadget is compact enough to throw in any bag, pack into any bracelet or link to any keychain, while transforming ordinary things into Internet-connected touch pads while out and about. If a Maker has an idea that calls for more than one button, simply plug in another. What’s more, a pair of capacitive touch buttons can be found between the USB stick and the alligator clip attachment — one is a play button to activate the board, the other to switch the type of input to the computer.


“It’s a simple tool-slash-toy that allows beginners and experts to make countless art, music, engineering, and science projects. It comes ready to use out of the box with no setup and no installations,” its creators note. “We redesigned Makey Makey Classic to focus it down to its absolute bare essentials: a single capacitive sensor input with a single alligator clip that can pretend to be any key or a mouse click. Then we gave it a magnet, a keyring, and shrunk it down so small that it fits anywhere.”

Following in the footsteps of its older brother, the Makey Makey GO is just about ready to wrap up its incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, which has garnered over $175,000 — well over its initial goal of $10,000. Delivery is expected to begin in November 2015.

Makey Makey and littleBits launch new ATmega32U4 based module

You can now use everyday objects to trigger your littleBits. 

A few years ago, MIT students Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum were on the lookout for a way to transform everyday things into touchpads. The duo (now JoyLabz) would eventually go on to create MaKey MaKey, which made its Kickstarter debut back in May 2012 and garnered over $500,000 in a matter of weeks. The basic kit was comprised of a USB cable and an ATmega32U4 based circuit board with alligator clips, which once attached to an object, opened the doors for Makers to explore their wildest imaginations — allowing them to do everything from perform piano classics on a series of bananas, play Super Mario chiptunes on Play-Doh and even make beats by dipping chicken nuggets into sauce.


Just the other day, our friends at littleBits introduced the newest addition to their not so ‘bitsy’ family: the Makey Makey Bit. As you can imagine, this new module brings the highly-popular DIY platform into the littleBits library, and thus, provides users with countless interactions that were never before conceived, let alone possible, with other products.

“Now, you can trigger your littleBits modules with everyday objects or use littleBits modules to trigger events in your computer, or a combination of both. It makes inventing even easier and more fun,” the team writes.


Built around an ATmega32U4, the latest module connects to a computer through a microUSB cable and features three Makey Makey inputs, each of which are mapped to left arrow, right arrow and space bar/mouse click — depending on how a user sets the switch. Each one of these key inputs can be controlled by littleBits modules, ranging from motion triggers to light sensors. The board itself is flanked, both top and bottom, by three magnetic panels that let it snap onto other Bits.

This offers Makers three different interactions: touch-to-Bit (trigger Bits via any conductive object), Bit-to-computer (link up with other Bits to command the cursors on a PC) and touch-to-computer (control a computer’s cursor using any object that has conductivity). Take the banana, for example. When a user touches the piece of fruit, they complete the connection and the Makey Makey Bit sends a signal to either their PC (move cursor left or right) or to their Bits (flash an LED or turn a motor).

“There’s this huge range of input and output possibilities with littleBits and a huge range of everyday objects – in fact the whole world — that you connect to with Makey Makey; and we’ve now put these together.”


Are you ready to turn ordinary objects in touchpads? Whether that means fist bumping to turn on the lights or petting your cat to trigger tunes, head over to littleBits’ official page here to get started!

12 projects that are redefining storytelling

In honor of World Book Day, here are some Maker innovations that are redefining storytelling…

They say stories can come to life, and well, these projects have taken that saying to an entirely new level.

This isn’t your typical coffee table book


Jonathan Zufi’s coffee table book entitled “ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation is the ultimate must-have for any Apple aficionado. The hardcover recounts the past 30 years of Apple design, exploring some of the most visually appealing and significant products ever created by the Cupertino-based company. The commemorative piece features a special white clamshell case along with a custom PCB configured to pulse embedded LEDs — like that of a sleeping older generation Apple notebook when moved — controlled by an Atmel 8-bit AVR RISC-based MCU.

This magical device will add augmented reality to storybooks 


The brainchild of Disney Research, HideOut explores how mobile projectors can enable new forms of interaction with digital content projected on everyday objects such as books, walls, game boards, tables, and many others. The smartphone-sized device enables seamless interaction between the digital and physical world using specially formulated infrared-absorbing markers – hidden from the human eye, but visible to a camera embedded in a compact mobile projection device. Digital imagery directly augments and responds to the physical objects it is projected on, such as an animated character interacting with printed graphics in a storybook.

This interactive piece of art tells a narrative


Created by Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, Dataflags is a narrative series of artwork that explores the financial troubles of corporations as they head towards bankruptcy, while highlighting the pivotal role data plays in today’s society. The piece — which was originally displayed in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum back in September 2014 — was powered by Bare Conductive’s incredibly-popular Touch Board (ATmega32U4) and some Electric Paint. The printed sensors were concealed by a layer of black ink, and when touched, triggered a selection of financial trading data theatrically sung by an opera performer.

This book judges you with its cover


Have you ever judged a book by its cover? Well, Amsterdam creative studio Moore is turning the tables on the old-school idiom by designing a sleeve equipped with an integrated camera and facial-recognition technology that scans the face of whoever comes near. The idea behind the aptly named Cover That Judges You was to build a book cover that is human and approachable-hi-tech. If someone conveys too much emotion – whether overexcitement or under-enthusiasm — the book will remain locked. However, if their expression is free of judgement, the system will send an audio-pulse to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and the book will unlock itself. The built-in camera is positioned at the top of the book’s sleeve, above a screen that feeds back the image when it detects a face in close proximity. Artwork featuring abstract facial features is displayed on the cover so that the user can line up their eyes, nose and mouth in the optimum position. Once the correct alignment is obtained, the screen turns green and a signal is relayed to the Arduino that opens the metal lock.

This interactive book lets you feel characters’ emotions


A team of MIT students unveiled a wearable book that uses networked sensors and actuators to create a sort of cyberpunk-like Neverending Story, blurring the line between the bodies of a reader and protagonist. The sensory fiction project — which built around James Tiptree’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” – was designed by Felix Heibeck, Alexis Hope, Julie Legault and Sophia Brueckner in the context of MIT’s Science Fiction To Science Fabrication class. The “augmented book” portrays the scenery and sets the mood, while its companion vest enables the reader to experience the protagonist’s physiological emotions unlike ever before. The wearable — controlled by an [Atmel based] Arduino board — swells, contracts, vibrates, heats up or cools down as the pages of the book are turned. Aside from 150 programmable LEDs to create ambient light based on changing setting and mood, the book/wearable support a number of outputs, including sound, a personal heating device to change skin temperature, vibration to influence heart rate, and a compression system to convey tightness or loosening through pressurized airbags.

This storytelling tree reads with you


In an effort to bring more interaction to story time, Northwood’s Childrens Museum in Wisconsin created a storytelling tree capable of reading along with you. The old computers inside the the museum display were retrofitted with a Touch Board (ATmega32U4) from Bare Conductive. In fact, this was a welcomed replacement as one staff member said that the computers “broke constantly and hogged power, keeping us from updating sounds files periodically throughout the year.”  Unlike its embedded predecessor, the MCU allowed sound files to be changed in an expedited manner, and was slim enough to nestle neatly into the trunk’s design. And what would a treehouse-like exhibit be without a makeshift walkie talkie comprised of cans strung together? Creatively, a set of headphones were also placed inside the can to make it exciting for participants to listen to the story.

This book blends the analog and digital worlds


Makers Israel Diaz and Ingrid Ocana were on a mission to find new ways to bring children closer to the vast universe of reading. In doing so, the duo figured out a new way to enhance a traditional book with basic electronic components and some Arduino Uno (ATmega328) programming to interact with user intervention through simple built-in sensors, AC motors, LEDs and speakers.

This tale is told with the turn of a music box handle


Night Sun is an interactive audiovisual installation which tells a story with the turn of a music box handle, powered by an ATmega32U4 MCU. In order to bring his idea to fruition, the Maker commissioned an Arduino Micro to control the exhibit. The Arduino was instructed to send a ‘play’ command to a computer when it sensed the touch of a passerby. Once the wired music box handle was turned, the window would light up. A pre-recorded sound would then send a signal to the computer and begin playing… and just like that, the story unfolds.

This pop-up book is made for the digital age 


A Maker by the name of Antonella Nonnis recently devised a unique interactive electronic book powered by two ATmega168 based boards. The book, titled “Music, Math, Art and Science,” was inspired by the work of Munari, Montessori and Antonella’s very own mother. The book contains movable parts and uses the electrical capacitance of the human body to activate sounds and lights and other sensors like a button for the math page. Comprised of recycled materials, the book is powered by a pair of Arduino Diecimila, which control the paper pop-up piano and the other controls the arts and science page.

These soft puppets are recreating fables for kids and parents


Footprints – which was prototyped using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) – can best be described as a network of interactive soft puppets that help create and share illustrated stories. Designed by Simone Capano, the project links various aspects of a child’s life, including school and family, by collecting and storing relevant data in the cloud. Footprints is typically initiated by a parent. Using a smartphone, the parent can record a little vocal story, add some images proposed by Footprints about the story that was just told, like the story’s characters or other objects related to it. Afterwards, the parent can send it all to the child’s puppet. The child can then listen to the story by placing the puppet on the tablet and playing with the images he or she has received to create a drawing about the story. Once the drawing is complete, Footprints send it back to the parent who then tracks the path of the stories shared with a child via the smartphone app.

This book really sets the scene


Created by Bertrand Lanthiez, Hvísl is described as “an invitation to both a visual and audible journey.” Pre-recorded sounds from Icelandic atmospheres are emitted with the help of electronic sensors hidden in some pages connected to a MaKey MaKey board (ATmega32U4). These effects accompany the reading and the contemplation of pictures from the country’s landscape.

This bookmark makes sure you never miss a part


Tired of having to reread pages in because you forgot which paragraph you left off on? Devised by 7Electrons, the aptly named eBookmark is envisioned to serve as a bridge between analog and digital worlds. The device — which is based on an 8-bit AVR MCU, various Adafruit components, 16 tiny LEDs and a resistive touch strip — allows the reader to save his or her place on the page, and with a switch, also select the left or right page. The top portion of the eBookmark extends for use with larger books.

This fiction machines lets you create your own narrative


Who could forget those ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books that became popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s? The series of children’s gamebooks where each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character’s actions and the plot’s outcome. Similarly speaking, software developer Jerry Belich has created an interactive arcade machine that works on the same premise. The Choosatron is an interactive fiction machine that lets users select the story, while it prints out a transcript of the chosen story paths. In essence, the machine is a cardboard box with a small thermal printer, a coin acceptor, a keypad, an SD memory card and an Arduino-compatible board.

These synth stairs can play Swedish House Mafia

If there’s one thing both Tom Hanks in “Big” and Dance Dance Revolution have taught us, it’s that people like stomping on things to a particular beat.

With the advent of DIY platforms like MaKey MaKey and Bare Conductive, Makers are now finding innovative ways to turn steps into sound. One Maker in particular, Barnaby Stacey, recently transformed his steps into a synth staircase that played tunes from Swedish House Mafia using ATmega32U4 based MaKey MaKey hardware, Logic Pro, VMPK software and a whole heck of a lot of tin foil. The rail was used as an earth point, while each stair (and rail ball) served as a musical note. As you can see from the video below, Stacey was able to piece together different notes by keymapping the steps separately for each melodic part.