Google turns your face into a gaming mouse thanks to AI

With its “Project Gameface”, Google offers players to control the mouse cursor using head movements and facial expressions. Powered by an AI, the device is mainly aimed at people with disabilities.

Artificial intelligence was everywhere at Google I/O 2023. The Mountain View firm performed several interesting demonstrations, but one of the most impressive is Project Gameface. This project aims to transform your face into a gaming mouse, in order to control the cursor via head movements and facial expressions.

Console players won’t blame us, but the keyboard/mouse combo is still a must on PC. Peripherals are numerous and there are today for all tastes, but not all gamers are able to use a keyboard or a mouse. In recent years, the world of video games has multiplied its efforts to become more inclusive. There are many examples and Google is participating in this movement with its project.

When a raised eyebrow acts as a right click

The mouse is hands-free and uses open source Google MediaPipe solutions. Google explains that head movements and facial expressions are captured using a simple webcam. It is not necessary to use a facial recognition solution.

The American giant’s tool can detect 468 points on the user’s face. It is able to distinguish ordinary facial expressions from the movements required to move the cursor. For example, we can assign the right click to a raise of the right eyebrow and a left click to a smile.

Google Project Gameface
© Google

These movements are then recognized by machine learning models, allowing the cursor to move on the screen. The user can then navigate on a PC, without needing a conventional mouse. To better accommodate the differences, Google allows for adjusting gesture sensitivity before triggering mouse actions.

Google Project Gameface
© Google

The firm explains that its project was inspired by the story of Lance Carr, a tetraplegic video game streamer with muscular dystrophy. This disease causes progressive degeneration of all the muscles in the body. Despite his disability, Lance did not give up his passion and used a mouse that could follow the movements of his head. Unfortunately, his house caught fire in 2021 while playing live on Twitch in front of gamers around the world. Lance Carr lost all his equipment, including his expensive mouse. Google followed Lance’s story and decided to work with him to design his project.

Project Gameface is still under development and has the potential to make gaming more accessible. Google says the code is open source and developers can test the software right now. They can contribute to this technology, improve it or use it.

Source: Journal du Geek by

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