Android accessibility update lets you control your phone, communicate using facial gestures

Originally featured at Access and Inclusion through Technology

The new features, called Camera Switches and Project Activate, let users navigate their devices without their hands or voice. Google is rolling out a few new accessibility features for Android users, including the ability to control your phone and communicate using facial gestures.

The first update, called Camera Switches, detects facial gestures using your phone's camera. Users can choose from six gestures -- look right, look left, look up, smile, raise eyebrows or open your mouth -- to navigate their phone. They can also assign gestures to carry out tasks like open notifications, go back to the home screen or pause gesture detection. The new feature can be used alongside physical switches.

Camera Switches also allows users or their caregiver to choose how long to hold a gesture and how big it needs to be for the phone to detect it. To use the feature, open your phone's settings, select Accessibility, and then tap Switch Access (under Interaction Controls). Turn it on and grant permissions. 

Additionally, a new Android app called Project Activate lets people use those same facial gestures from Camera Switches to activate customized actions using a single gesture, like saying a preset phrase, sending a text and making a phone call.

Edition 67, October 2021

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