This project was inspired by Apples recent addition of the touch bar to the new Macbook pro. It runs on Arduino Nano and interfaces with Processing via USB connection, creating a unique + intuitive way to interact with my Laptop.
It has a 5 button interface which allows me to launch apps, open folders and pull up my favorite websites with a quick button press. This version currently gives me to access 24 different functions which are divided into 6 categories of 4 functions for ease of use, these categories include: Tools, Media, Browser, Utilities, Social and Lifestyle. Categories can be navigated through using the small button on the side and each category is visualized with a unique color by an RGB led within the device, illuminating the plastic buttons from underneath. These colors allow me to associate which category the software is in without looking at the screen.
As precedent for this project I took these words from Apples Chief Design Officer about the touch bar:
"We're introducing a new way to interact with your notebook, a multi touch bar provides a more intuitive, more immediate connection to your content. Commands that were once hidden are now visible, easily accessible and also customizable." - Jonathan Ive.
In short: The Laptop Control Box allows you to assign specific applications and functions to each button which can then be launched without the need to navigate through your Laptop, improving accessibility to content.
As someone who creates a lot of digital content on a Laptop I find myself constantly bouncing between various software's, files, and windows frequently during projects. Traditionally, navigating through this content requires the mouse / trackpad which can be time consuming when trying to work efficiently. Fortunately, with inspiration from Apple I was able to create a device that innovates upon the traditional MacBook workflow.
This Instructable outlines the full creative process from manufacturing and coding to final product. It has been designed to interface with a MacBook Pro but can easily be adapted for Windows.
All laser cutting files and code are attached and open source.
The Design requires only a few parts:
You will need access to a laser cutter and a drill press.