Give Your MacBook Touchscreen Controls With Just $1 Worth Of Gear

Give Your MacBook Touchscreen Controls With Just $1 Worth Of Gear
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Apple still refuses to release a touchscreen MacBook (no, the Touch Bar doesn’t count), but one group of developers have come up with a clever solution. Using some impressive AI software and about a buck’s worth of hardware, the team was able to bring rudimentary touchscreen controls to an Apple laptop.

The setup works by reflecting the MacBook’s built-in camera down towards the screen. From that viewing angle, special computer vision software can tell when you touch the screen based on the distance between your finger and its reflection. It can also map the exact location of your finger.

On the hardware side, all you need to create a “touchscreen” MacBook is to MacGyver a contraption consisting of a small mirror, a piece of a paper plate, a door hinge, and some hot glue. Here’s what it looks like put together:

Photo: Anish Athalye

You’ll have to build your own contraption and figure out the “Project Sistine” software on your own, but it’s a fun weekend project if you’re technologically inclined. Even if you get it working, the software is also a little limited for now. It basically replaces the mouse with your finger, but doesn’t offer multi-touch controls like you get on a smartphone. Still, it’s a great first shot.