AirBar: The easy way to upgrade your old laptop with a touchscreen

The AirBar is certainly a clever little idea

Want to convert your non-touch notebook into an all-singing-and-dancing laptop with a touchscreen display? Then you might want to check out the AirBar.

This is a new gadget made by Neonode (due to be shown off at CES next month) and it falls under the bracket of simple but ingenious inventions (at least, that's assuming it works as well as it appears to do in the promotional material).

The AirBar is simply a thin black bar which attaches to the bottom bezel of your laptop display, and plugs into a USB port to draw power. It then projects what the manufacturer calls an "invisible light field" across the notebook screen, enabling the user to employ touch gestures just as if it was a full touchscreen.

Power of touch

In fact, this is a touchscreen-plus, because unlike a typical physical touchscreen, AirBar isn't fazed by things like the user wearing gloves – indeed, you can use a paintbrush or other items for touch control with the device should you wish.

And you're getting full touch functionality without paying the Earth for the upgrade either – AirBar retails at $49 (£33), although that's without shipping. Still, it doesn't seem like much to pay for a touchscreen.

The only caveat is currently Neonode only produces one size of the device to fit a 15.6-inch laptop, but presumably if it's successful, other sizes will be manufactured.

It's also worth bearing in mind that the gadget only works with Windows notebooks or Chromebooks currently, although Mac laptops may eventually be supported. That said, the company claims that the product does offer limited functionality on OS X, and you can always try it out if you do happen to have a MacBook.

Pre-orders for the device are open now, and the AirBar will be available soon.


Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).