Google's Look to Speak lets users pick phrases with their eyes

The accessibility app could help users with motor and speech impairments to communicate.

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Kris Holt
December 8th, 2020
Google's Look to Speak accessibility app
Google

Google's latest accessibility app could help people with motor and speech impairments to communicate. Look to Speak includes a number of phrases that users can select with their eyes. The app is now available on devices running Android 9.0 or above, along with Android One.

Users can look left or right to navigate the app and select from a list of customizable phrases, which are read aloud. Look to Speak uses a device's front-facing camera to track where the user is looking. The device should be mounted a little below eye level — there's a guide in the experimental app to help you set it up properly.

You can adjust the eye gaze sensitivity, while looking upwards snoozes the app. Google says that all Look to Speak data is private and stays on device. 

There has been other work into helping people with speech and motor impairments use eye tracking to communicate. Microsoft has worked on a smartphone-based system called GazeSpeak while a video that explains Look to Speak shows a person crafting a message using their gaze and an on-screen keyboard.

Look To Speak is part of the Start with One project under the Experiments with Google umbrella. Recent experiments on that platform include a never-ending music video app filled with covers of Billie Eilish’s "Bad Guy.”

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