Google is offering new ways for people with various disabilities to use their smartphones more easily.
The tech giant said it is now possible to control Android smartphones hands-free using simple gestures like smiling, raising eyebrows or looking in one direction.
The new options are available through two tools – Camera Switches and Project Activate – which use machine learning technology and the phone’s front camera to detect gestures.
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Camera switches is a feature of Switch Access, a long-standing option that allows users to use adaptive buttons called physical switches to control their phones. The new offering allows users to assign six types of facial gestures to different actions such as returning to the home screen or opening notifications.
Project Activate At the same time, users have the option of assigning these same facial gestures to more complex actions, such as speaking a predefined phrase, making a phone call, or sending a text.
Gestures are customizable, Google said, so users can determine how long a gesture needs to be held or how big it needs to be for the phone to respond.
âEvery day, people use voice commands, like ‘Hey Google’, or their hands to navigate their phones. However, this is not always possible for people with severe motor and speech disorders, âwrote Lisie Lillianfeld, product manager at Google Research, and Allen Nikkam, product manager on the team at Google’s central accessibility, in an article announcing the new offers. âNow it is possible for anyone to use eye movements and facial gestures to navigate their phone, without their hands or voice! “
The updates are aimed at people with motor and speech disabilities, Google said, and the new tools were developed with feedback from people who depend on alternative communication technology.