Google's Project Gameface hands-free 'mouse' launches on Android

Project Gameface could lead to more accessible Android apps.


At last year's Google I/O developer conference, the company introduced Project Gameface, a hands-free gaming "mouse" that allows users to control a computer's cursor with movements of their head and facial gestures. This year, Google has announced that it has open-sourced more code for Project Gameface, allowing developers to build Android applications that can use the technology.

The tool relies on the phone's front camera to track facial expressions and head movements, which can be used to control a virtual cursor. A user could smile to "select" items onscreen, for instance, or raise their left eyebrow to go back to the home screen on an Android phone. In addition, users can set thresholds or gesture sizes for each expression, so that they can control how prominent their expressions should be to trigger a specific mouse action.

The company developed Project Gameface with gaming streamer Lance Carr, who has muscular dystrophy that weakens his muscles. Carr used a head-tracking mouse to game before a fire destroyed his home, along with his expensive equipment. The early version of Project Gameface was focused on gaming and uses a webcam to detect facial expressions, though Google had known from the start that it had a lot of other potential uses.

For the tool's Android launch, Google teamed up with an Indian organization called Incluzza that supports people with disabilities. The partnership gave the company the chance to learn how Project Gameface can help people with disabilities further their studies, communicate with friends and family more easily and find jobs online. Google has released the project's open source code on GitHub and is hoping that more developers decide to "leverage it to build new experiences."

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