Love ’em or hate ’em, selfies are an important aspect of photography; they help us connect with loved ones, and people spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about how to look good in photos taken of yourself. (I should know; I wrote a whole damn book about ’em in a past life). People who are blind and vision impaired still use phones, of course — there’s a ton of audio guidance available on modern smartphones — but taking photographs is much harder. Well, it was, at any rate, until Google introduced its Guided Frame, which sparked into life at one of Google’s hackathon events.
The feature is super elegant: Point the camera at yourself, and the phone will advise you how to tilt and rotate the camera to get yourself fully in frame and then takes the photo for you.
With prompts like “Move your phone right and up,” and a handy countdown to get the poses and facial expressions right. You can watch the relevant section of Google’s Made By Google ’22 event here.
“A selfie to me, and to many blind users, is a way to express themselves,” says Lingeng Wang, Technical Program Manager, Product Inclusion & Accessibility, Google Hardware. He was part of the team that brought Guided Frame to Pixel’s camera software.
I love seeing more accessibility features turn up on phones — and in tech events in general. It is telling, for example, that the entire event was signed in American Sign Language and had high-quality subtitles throughout. Normalizing thinking accessibility at every level of product development is a beautiful thing, and Google deserves kudos for pushing the envelope in the right direction.