Astro’s Luna Display will turn your iPad’s front camera into a clever button

Astro’s Luna Display hardware dongle is a dream for anyone who wants their iPad to act as a second screen for their Mac – wirelessly. Now, the company has revealed a clever update that turns the front-facing camera of your iPad into a neat, contextual button that gives you access to a range of features without cluttering up your user interface.

In case you missed it, Luna Display is a small USB dongle that you plug into your Mac, which talks to an app on your iPad to turn it into a second screen for your computer, with no lag and terrific visual fidelity. I’ve tested a prototype, and it really does work as advertised, complete with touch input and support for Apple Pencil.

Now, they’re revealing the Camera Button, which is essentially a way to hide the extra UI features that Astro wanted to add to Luna, aimed at creative pros and power users. To access a tray of menu items that let you adjust screen brightness and alter the display arrangement quickly and easily, you can just place your finger over the front-facing camera on the iPad using the Luna app to quickly call and hide a sidebar menu.

It’s a super cool use of iPad hardware, turning something that isn’t a button into one without requiring any awkward hardware add-ons or Bluetooth accessories. To maintain user privacy, Astro also blurs the image coming in from the camera when it taps into the hardware to ensure anonymity. Also, Luna put the same function into the iPad volume buttons in case you’d rather not use the camera this way.

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The end result is awesome, and hopefully it’ll be allowed to stick around in the final release (Apple sometimes reacts negatively to odd uses of its hardware). Luna is still on Kickstarter ahead of its consumer launch, with backer discounts available for another week or so.