Niklas Roy cannot be contained! He’s built a curtain in his shop window that uses machine vision and fast linear positioning to block the view of nosy onlookers.

My workshop is located in an old storefront with a big window facing towards the street. In an attempt to create more privacy inside, I’ve decided to install a small but smart curtain in that window. The curtain is smaller than the window, but an additional surveillance camera and an old laptop provide it with intelligence: The computer sees the pedestrians and locates them. With a motor attached, it positions the curtain exactly where the pedestrians are.

The whole setup works really well. But in the end, it doesn’t protect my privacy at all. It seems that the existence of my little curtain is leading itself ad absurdum, simply by doing its job very well. My moving curtain attracts the looks of people which usually would never care about my window. It is even the star of the street, now! My curtain is just engaged. And because of that, it fails.

He’s included plans, schematics and code (AVR and Processing) on his web site.

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works at Disney Research and writes for Make and Boing Boing. He is training for American Ninja Warrior. You can find him at and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.

  • NeuroPulse

    “In an attempt to create more privacy inside, I’ve decided to install a small but smart curtain in that window.”

    If he put a bigger curtain that was as wide as the window, it would not have to be moved.

  • Shadyman

    Having two or three separate curtains might help with multiple targets, as that’s where it seems to have a bit of trouble.

  • chiefjoe

    Hmmmm. What if you took the LCD panel out of a (broken) big screen hdtv. If the panel is opaque enough to use as a window, you could then program it to black out in front of passersby. It would be similar to using an lcd and a camera as a mirror.

    Just brain storming.

  • Marc de Vinck

    A completely over-engineered solution, as NeuroPulse points out, but also completely awesome! Love it!