Memory box displays a photo of whoever scans their fingerprint

Mike Buss wanted to build a memory box for his son’s birthday, but he has a tinkerer’s brain so he obviously had to overengineer the whole thing and add some techie treats. While it might look like a plain old wooden box to put keepsakes in, all the magic happens inside the lid.

Memory box displays a photo of whoever scans their fingerprint
Nice photo from Mike’s nice website

A Linux OS is running under there, with a fingerprint scanner and an e-paper display sitting flush with the box’s lid, all powered by Raspberry Pi Zero W.

We are big fans of the dreamy background music and Mike’s reassuring voice in this video

Hardware

  • Wooden box (any box with enough room under the lid for the electronics should work, but Mike splashed out on this lovely one)
  • Fingerprint scanner
Memory box displays a photo of whoever scans their fingerprint
All of this stuff fits inside the lid of the box

I wanna try a fingerprint scanner too!

In a lovely example of “I included this feature just because“, in his build post, Mike explains:

“I decided to add a fingerprint scanner to the top of the box because, ever since my son saw me use a fingerprint scanner at his daycare, he’s been dying to try one.”

That math checks out for me. In this project, Mike devised a pretty amazing use for the scanner. The e-paper display rotates through photos throughout the day, but if someone uses the fingerprint scanner, it displays one of the photos which has that person tagged in it. If grandma touches the scanner, a photo featuring her will pop up on the lid.

Memory box displays a photo of whoever scans their fingerprint
The box pulls tagged photos from its recipient’s parents’ phones

How does this magic work? The Python script in this zip file runs on the Raspberry Pi and receives “memories” over Wi-Fi. These memories are pulled from Mike’s and his wife’s iPhones, and consist of a photo, a description, and a list of people tagged in the photo. I can barely keep on top of deleting the useless screenshots I’ve taken on my phone over the last 18 months, so kudos to Mike and his wife for putting in the admin effort.

The little Pisugar battery means the box is entirely portable and also allows it to do smart things like shutting itself down to save power, so Mike’s currently-three-year-old son has an amazing keepsake to take with him wherever he ends up travelling.

Memory box displays a photo of whoever scans their fingerprint
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