Google has announced a new app namely, Look to Speak that will enable people living with speech and motor impairments to communicate through their smartphone. As the name of the app suggests, users can use their eyes to choose pre-written phrases for their phone to speak out loud. The app is available for Android smartphones, and its iOS availability details remain unclear. It works with Android 9.0 and above, including Android One.
In a blog post, Richard Cave who is speech and language therapist said that he started working with Google on the project earlier this year. " As mobile devices become more ubiquitous and powerful, with technologies like machine learning built right into them, I have thought about the ways phones can work alongside assistive technologies," Cave added. The post explains that to use the Look to Speak app, users will need to look left, right or up to select pre-existing phrases that would be communicated out loud via the mobile’s microphone. Users will also have the option to create words and phrases by using their eye movements.
“Perhaps my favourite feature is the ability to personalize the words and phrases—it lets people share their authentic voice. The eye gaze sensitivity settings can be adjusted, and all of the data is private and never leaves the phone," Cave further noted in the blog post.
Google says that the Look to Speak project is a part of its Start With One programme that is a collection of experiments that started by working with one person to make something “impactful for them and their community." It was also added that Look to Speak does not replace the heavy-duty communication aid devices as they come with lots of functionalities. The app is meant to send those “important short messages" where the other communication device can’t go.