Makey-Makeying the Bucket

Last class I had my first experience with a MaKey MaKey.  A MaKey MaKey is an invention kit that really has endless possibilities.  It can be used to create a musical instrument made of fruit, a joystick for video games, or a drum kit made of Play-Doh.  Check out their website to get a sense of what other creative items you could make.

For my Interactive Exhibit Design course in Western’s Public History program,  we played with MaKey MaKeys for the first time. With my colleague Stacey Devlin, we created some crude cutouts of a basketball hoop and a basketball player and managed–with the help of the MaKey MaKey and Max 6 software, were able to make it so that when the basketball player made contact  with the rim of the basketball hoop, a sound bite of a crowd cheering would go off.  I won’t bore you with the technical aspects of this project, because, well, I couldn’t adequately explain them to you anyway.  The point is that this activity gave me the inspiration for what I think will be my final project for Interactive Exhibit Design.

You know those basketball hoops that you see in arcades?  like this one?

Arcade Basketball Hoop

Arcade Basketball Hoop, image courtesy of Sears

I thought I would create a more portable version for the bored office worker out one of those small basketball hoops a teenager might put on his wall, like this one below.

Mini basketball hoop

Mini basketball hoop

The dream is that we’ll be able to hook up some kind of sensor to the mesh of the hoop that will record how baskets the shooter has made, as well as calculate the current streak (number of shots made in a row without missing), and the percentage of shots made in the shooters’s turn, or session (field goal percentage, for you basketball junkies out there).  I’m not quite sure how I’ll pull this off, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Max 6 will be involved, and maybe the MaKey MaKey, provided that there is a sensor out there that is compatible with both.  I think Max 6 would be involved to organize the sound bites and to manage the message, as well as serve as the display for the statistics I want to show.

On top of this, I would also hope that when a basket is made, I could make a sound bite go off that cheers for the shooter or says something like “boom goes the dynamite” or “He’s on fire!”  If the shooter misses, it would be funny if the sound clip would say “brick!” or “Not in my house!”

I think it would just be a hoot and a laugh if I could get this thing to work.  Will it cure cancer? No.  Will it improve literacy among at-risk children? Absolutely not.  However, I think it has the potential to make a small corner of the world a little more fun, a little more hilarious, and a little more bearable.  If I can accomplish that, I would consider it a success, even if it’s only my small corner.