Chrome has several experimental features that users can opt into if they want to test out features early. FacePause is a Chrome extension that makes use of an experimental feature in the browser that can detect face movement, among other things. It can automatically pause YouTube when you look away from your screen. It needs to have access to your webcam to work and you obviously need to have a webcam connected to your system in order to use this extension. It makes use of an experimental feature and the extension itself is experimental but that doesn’t mean it’s a train wreck that hardly ever responds. It works great and is very responsive.
Enable Experimental Web Platform Features
Open Chrome and go to the following page. Enable the Experimental Web Platform Features and relaunch Chrome.
Pause YouTube When You Look Away
Next, install FacePause and visit YouTube. At the bottom, you will see a little pop-up with a switch that will enable the extension. When it’s first enabled, you may have to allow Chrome access to your webcam. On first launch, make sure you’re looking directly at your webcam so that it knows what to look for to know if you’re looking at your screen or not.
Once it’s done scanning, it’s ready to use.
Play a YouTube video and any time you look away, it will automatically be paused. This works not just when you look away but if you get up and leave your desk, or bend down to pick up something. The extension can tell when a face is absent, and it can tell when it’s looking at your side profile instead of your front profile.
The extension is very responsive; you won’t have to wait for it to pause the video. Something similar to this has existed for a while except it works with hand gestures. Flutter is a popular app available for both Mac and Windows that can pause YouTube and other media streaming websites and apps if you hold up a hand to the webcam.
Apps like this rely on the webcam to work and understandably, not too many people might be happy with their webcam being on all the time. Many people prefer to keep their cameras covered unless they’re using them. It doesn’t seem like anyone is working on hardware that works specifically to recognize hand gestures or anything like that so webcams are likely going to be the hardware used to implement features like this. They’re futuristic but they require users to trust that their webcams aren’t a security risk.