Spark inspiration during quarantine with this DIY idea generator

The Adafruit CLUE idea generator, inspired by Brian Eno's classic Oblique Strategies, will give you plenty of ideas to jumpstart your creative engine.

If you're like lots and lots of folks right now, you're probably spending all your time indoors because you're a good person and that's what you're supposed to do to help fight coronavirus. But you may likely also be getting incredibly bored, because let's face it: there's only so much Netflix you can watch.

Fortunately, New York-based DIY workshop Adafruit has come up with a fun way to help stave off the boredom. The Creative Inspiration Activity Generator project — which is detailed on its website — takes advantage of its Adafruit CLUE circuit board to create a randomized idea generator. Which might just help spark a new idea at a moment when we need new ideas more than ever.

Clean, innocent fun — The project shouldn't take too long to put together so long as you have an Adafruit CLUE — though right now the company itself is only shipping medical or essential devices (you can order the $40 board from DigiKey here instead). Besides the CLUE you just need a USB cable and a computer to download the project software. Adafruit has full step-by-step instructions on how to get the idea generator up and running; the whole thing is fairly straightforward but presents some interesting opportunities to customize for your needs.

Once running the IPS display on the CLUE will throw you a near-infinite number of creative prompts to get the juices flowing. The ideas all follow a format of, "make a [blank] about [blank]." For example, it may instruct you to "make a song about danger robot," whatever that means. It's supposed to be open-ended!

Adafruit's Collin Cunningham says the Creative Inspiration Activity Generator was inspired by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies, a deck of cards created in 1975 that's supposed to aid in the creative process by presenting you with a random question or instruction.

Adafruit's spin on Oblique Strategies is a bit more friendly to all ages, however, because the prompts are much less sophisticated and you can tweak it with your own words and subjects. It also doesn't require any soldering, if this is something you want your kids to work on without the danger of molten metal.

If you're in the market for something to do with your hands and brain, the CIAG is a good place to start, and supporting companies like Adafruit (which is working to provide medical devices and designs to workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight) makes crushing your boredom feel pretty good on several levels.