Communicating on Instagram Without Typing

A system created to help Stephen Hawking communicate inspires a new AR effect on Instagram.

What’s New: Working with Meta and Vega Studio, Intel today launched Facial Messaging, an Instagram augmented reality (AR) effect that allows the social networking service’s users to compose a message video using simple facial movements, and then share the video on Instagram on Stories and Reels. The companies created this Instagram experience to demonstrate the power and potential of the technology to help people with limited accessibility.

To help people with limited movement interact with the world, new technologies are essential to improving accessibility.

How It Works: By making simple facial movements, users can interact with an AR interface to choose from a limited set of message options. Moving one’s face up and down helps navigate between options, while blinking serves as a trigger, like pushing a button to select an option. The user can then save and/or share their message on Instagram. There are currently 12 message options available.

The Facial Messaging effect created by Intel and Vega Studio was inspired by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies developed in Intel’s Human and AI Research Systems Lab, including the open source Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT). ACAT was developed at Intel Labs to enable people with motor neuron diseases and other disabilities to have full access to the capabilities and applications of their computers through very constrained interfaces suitable for their conditions.

Why It’s Important: To help people with limited movement interact with the world, new technologies are essential to improving accessibility. Intel’s ACAT program uses cameras and AI to help those with motor neuron conditions communicate and participate in other activities. Originally built for Stephen Hawking, the benefits of the system are finding new, wide-ranging uses every day with users of all abilities.

How to Try It: Released on Global Accessibility Day, the Facial Messaging effect is available on Instagram under Intel’s profile.

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