A team at XDA Developers has discovered that Google has added facial expression recognition to the beta version of the Android Accessibility Suite, which came with the fourth beta version of Android 12 released this August. The new feature is called collectively Camera Switches.
Camera Switches is one of the options located in the Accessibility Suite that will allow users to interact with an Android device without using the touchscreen. Switch Access was previously available to allow for an external device — like a keyboard or mouse — to be connected either by USB or Bluetooth to perform a variety of tasks. The new features appear to be geared toward allowing those with disabilities to communicate with their phone without using their voice.
In this new update, Google has added new functionality that will allow developers to create applications that respond to six unique facial cues: opening mouth, smiling, raising eyebrows, looking left, looking right and looking up.
Google has also made sure users will know when Camera Switches is using the camera by displaying an icon on the screen. They have also added a note in the setup routine promising users that images captured by Camera Switches are not stored anywhere or sent to Google.
The addition of Camera Switches to the Android 12 beta release seems to indicate that it will be part of the official launch of the operating system later this year.