Hands-free iPad Access: Hawkeye Continues to Evolve, by Alyssa Dimmick

Wisam and author Alli sit side by side at table, smliing, with iPhone in front of them on a stand.

Hawkeye Access is a free app that allows hands-free web access by using eye and facial movements, making accessing the web much easier for someone with limited mobility. Although the app needed improvements in its beginning stages, user feedback and an update have made it more functional than ever. As of right now, the app is only compatible with iOS 12.0 or later, and will only work on devices with a TrueDepth camera, like the iPhone X or iPad Pro.

Each time the Hawkeye app is opened, it will prompt users to calibrate eye tracking by holding still and following a circle on a path to several focal points with their eyes. When calibration is complete, the users are prompted to choose whether their selection preference is by blink, smile, or holding their gaze.

Users can then direct a cursor using eye movement and utilize their selection preference to browse the web, access Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon, Google and more through tiles directly within the app. For any page visited, there is a bookmark option in the lower left corner that enables the user to save any website or web page as a new tile on the app’s home screen for future ease of access.

Hawkeye Access has additional settings that can be changed depending on preferences and needs. The sensitivity of the eye tracking and the smile selection option, as well as the duration of the blink and gaze selection options, can be adjusted in the settings menu.

On an iPad, the user can select an eye-controlled keyboard in place of voice dictation as text entry. Although the user is limited to using the eye tracking function within the app, as long as Face Recognition is enabled on the device, a simple, “Hey Siri, open the Access app” will open the app hands free.

While there is still lots of work to be done, innovative technology such as the Hawkeye Access app is making internet access more inclusive for people with disabilities. Similar to how voice control is an available option on almost any modern device, if eye tracking control is possible within an app, it may be possible for an entire device to be controlled by eye and facial movement in the near future.

Version 2.0 of Hawkeye Access has technological advances and improvements that enthuse us! If you haven’t tried it, we recommend that you give it a shot.