Back in 2020, Google released an experimental Android app that lets people with speech and motor impairments communicate via eye-tracking. Look to Speak got a high-profile Google ad at the Oscars this evening.
Look to Speak takes advantage of your Android phone’s front-facing camera to let people look left or right to select from a list of phrases that are read aloud with text-to-speech. The phone is placed in front of the user (preferably mounted) with a clear view of their eyes. In addition to determining which text is visible:
Customization options let users set the gaze off-screen distance (close, medium and far) as well as the required gaze duration to trigger. A feedback ping is available to confirm each selection. The app can be paused/”snoozed” at any time (see above) so that it isn’t always looking for your gaze.
Developed by Google Creative Lab, the app was updated in November to work in additional languages. Look to Speak is available in the Play Store for phones running Android 9 and newer.
Google’s minute-long ad shows a close-up of people’s eyes before showing a demo of Look to Speak in Action. The screen recording of the Pixel 5a/5/4a 5G appears to have been edited on an unknown device (in one case), with the volume rocker on the left edge and six rear-facing camera cutouts. It aired two hours into the broadcast.
The ad ends with the tagline name “Look to Speak” by Google and “Technology Made to Help” before ending on the company’s logo. A version of this video with audio description is available here.
Earlier in the evening, Snap aired an ad about finger spelling lenses, while Meta showed off its month-old WhatsApp end-to-end encryption clip.
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