Turn Your Macbook into a Touchscreen Computer with Just $1

Get an upgrade using this little piece of hardware.
Fabienne Lang

If you think adding a touchscreen to your MacBook would be costly or complicated, think again. 

A group of four friends, Anish Athalye, Logan Engstrom, Guillermo Webster, and Kevin Kwok just bought $1's worth of hardware and put their computer vision together to create their proof-of-concept, the 'Sistine Chapel.'

It only took the team of four 16 hours from start to finish to create the touchscreen. 


What did the team use?

Their plan when starting off was to fit a small mirror right in front of Mac's built-in webcam so that the camera would end up looking directly down at an angle towards the screen.

The camera would then notice fingers hovering or touching the screen. Then the team would create a translatable video feed utilizing touch events by using computer vision. 

They make it sound effortless.

The only hardware they bought were: 

  • A small mirror
  • A rigid paper plate
  • A door hinge
  • Hot glue

Here is the end result once they put the hardware together:

Turn Your Macbook into a Touchscreen Computer with Just $1
Finished product. Source: Anish Athalye blog

Remarkably, this little piece of hardware is what will make the touchscreen function. 

The camera then looks down at the screen and registers whether or not a finger is hovering or touching the screen. 

The final touches were mapping and calibrating

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The team worked together to input the mapping of the touch/hover points the webcam was picking up and turned them into on-screen coordinates. 

Data is collected from the webcam's view and where the screen is being closely pointed at or touched. 

The screen becomes a touchscreen, as you can see from the video below, it functions well. All for only $1!

Have a look at the final product above.

The team is looking to introduce higher resolution webcam as well as a curved mirror, both of which would enhance the touchscreen.

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