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PageTurn Uses Facial Recognition for Hands-Free Navigation of PDFs, Perfect for Musicians

Developer and musician Stephen Coyle just released a new app that enables hands-free page turning of PDFs via facial expressions. The aptly-named PageTurn utilizes the power of the TrueDepth camera system found in all iOS devices that support Face ID – the iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Max, plus the 2018 iPad Pros – to enable turning pages of a PDF using only your face.

There are two options of facial gestures available to control page turning: mouth control, which is the default, or wink control. Mouth control works by tracking the movement of your mouth: if you move it right, you'll advance forward a page, while moving it left goes back a page. Wink control advances forward with a right wink, and goes back with a left wink. With both of these options, PageTurn provides the ability to set sensitivity so you can customize each gesture to whatever's most comfortable for you. It feels odd at first making these gestures to turn pages, but in my experience it quickly became comfortable.

PageTurn was designed primarily for musicians, who often bear the unenviable task of turning pages of sheet music while both their hands are occupied playing an instrument. It works with any PDF though, so readers can have hands-free page navigation as well. You can get PDFs into the app via the import button in the upper-left corner, which opens a Files picker, or if you have a PDF open in another app, you can copy it to PageTurn using the share sheet.

PageTurn is a simple utility, but for those who could benefit from it – musicians in particular, and also users with accessibility needs – it's a potentially revolutionary tool that enables new ways of doing a common task that weren't previously possible. The app is a shining example of the creativity of indie developers.

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