People with speech or physical problems can now manage their Android-powered smartphones hands-free by raising an eyebrow or smiling, according to Google. Machine learning and front-facing cameras on smartphones are used in two new apps to detect face and eye movements.
By smiling, raising their eyebrows, opening their mouth, or gazing to the left, right, or up, users can scan their phone screen and select a task. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 million adults in the United States have disabilities, prompting Google and competitors Apple and Microsoft to make products and services more accessible to them.
The modifications are the result of two new features, one of which is termed “Camera Switches,” which allows consumers to interact with cellphones using their faces rather than swipes and taps.
The other is Project Activate, a new Android app that lets users use gestures to perform tasks such as having a phone play a recorded word, send an SMS, or make a phone call.
Google Said, “Now it’s possible for anyone to use eye movements and facial gestures that are customized to their range of movement to navigate their phone — sans hands and voice.” The free Activate app is available on Google Play in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft have continuously released advances that make Internet technology more accessible to persons with impairments or who feel that advancing years have made some skills, such as reading, more difficult.
People with vision or movement impairments can use voice-activated digital assistants incorporated into speakers and cellphones to tell computers what to do.
There is software that recognizes text on web pages or in photos and reads it aloud, as well as software that automatically generates captions for videos.
Apple’s smartwatch software has an “AssistiveTouch” function that allows touchscreen displays to be operated by sensing actions like finger pinches or hand clenches.
According to Microsoft, accessibility is critical to empowering everyone with technological tools.