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  • Annie Galvin

📱Empowering Accessibility: Controlling Your iPad with Head Movement

👋Hello, readers! I'm Swapnil, CEO and Co-founder of Therapy Box, the creator of Predictable, a communication app designed for individuals who cannot speak. Today, I want to explore a fascinating question: Could you ever control your iPad with your head movement? Imagine not needing to touch the screen at all. This is the challenge we set out to solve at Therapy Box.

The Relevance of Head Movement Control:

In the United States alone, there are approximately 2 million individuals who rely on communication aids, and in the United Kingdom, that number stands at 250,000. Many of these individuals may have limited physical abilities, with only head movement remaining as a viable option for interaction. This leads us to an important question: Can we track a person's head using the iPad's camera and provide them with the ability to use the device without physically touching it? 🧠💡

🙌 Inspiration from Lisa Bardach:

Lisa Bardach, a Speech Therapist at ALS of Michigan, was also grappling with this challenge. Her ALS patients, who love using iPads, wanted to continue using them even as their ability to tap the screen diminished. Although Apple's front-facing camera was available for head tracking in certain apps like Predictable, it was not possible to utilize head tracking across the entire device. However, Lisa stumbled upon a Google document containing the exact steps to achieve this functionality.

🚀Dale Ehrhart's Groundbreaking Discovery:

Dale Ehrhart, an assistive technologist from the Genesee Intermediate School District, came across this challenge while working with a student named Amanda. Frustrated with eye-tracking and switch scanning, Amanda simply wanted to access YouTube, which was previously out of reach. Spending two days exploring complex settings, Dale eventually discovered how to enable global head tracking using only an iPad. This discovery was life-changing for Amanda, as she could now not only use YouTube but also explore GarageBand for music creation and much more!

The Significance of Head Tracking:

Working closely with Lisa, we realised the profound impact of this information and the various benefits it brings:

🌟 No need for external hardware, which means no additional cost and fewer cables to deal with. Yay for simplicity! ✨

🌟 No calibration required. It works straight out of the box. 🎁

🌟 Works in any lighting conditions - from full brightness to total darkness - and even with reading glasses. 🌞🌚👓

🌟 The iPad automatically adjusts to your physical positioning, making it more forgiving and adaptable. 📐

🌟 It has a lower learning curve, taking just a few minutes to get up and running. Quick and easy! 🚀 Useful Resources:

To witness the power of head tracking in action, we have some helpful links for you to explore:

🎥Watch Amanda using head tracking to bowl:

🎥Listen to a conversation between Lisa, Dale, and Swapnil discussing this breakthrough:

🎥Access the global head-tracking video guide:

📃Read the comprehensive written guide on global head tracking:

Head Tracking Guide
Download PDF • 352KB


The ability to control an iPad using head movement opens up possibilities for those with limited physical abilities. That brings us to our heartfelt ask: Apple, we urge you to make built-in iOS global head tracking a reality! 🌟


📧 Therapy Box -

📧 Lisa Bardach -

📧 Dale Ehrhart -

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