This Creepy Chrome Extension Pauses YouTube for You When You Look Away

Illustration for article titled This Creepy Chrome Extension Pauses YouTube for You When You Look Away
Screenshot: Gizmodo (Mattias Hemmingsson)

Want to trade the tattered remains of your privacy for a very minor convenience? Ever wish your computer would stare back at you while you hunt for that one good SNL skit on YouTube? If “yes” is your answer, do I have the tool for you.

FacePause is a Chrome extension that tracks your face as you watch YouTube. When the add-on notices you’re not staring directly at the screen, it automatically pauses the video, saving you from... what, we’re not entirely sure—multitasking? The extension mostly works as advertised, though when I tried it, FacePause occasionally struggled to detect if I was, in fact, paying attention, causing the stream to stutter a bit.

The project was created by Berlin-based developer Mattias Hemmingsson to explore what developers can do with Chrome’s built-in FaceDetector API. “I don’t trust my webcam,” Hemmingsson writes, “so I have it covered and I don’t trust Youtube/Google so see this more as an experiment of Chromes new technology, than a product you’d use every day.”


To try it out, if you’d even want to do such a thing, add this extension, enable Chrome’s Experimental Web Platform features (via this url: chrome://flags/#enable-experimental-web-platform-features), relaunch the browser, pull up a YouTube video, click the slider that should appear at the bottom of your screen, and wearily grant access to your camera. Or, just watch a demo of it in action.

This is probably not something you’ll want to keep installed on your computer, but it’s an intriguing project nonetheless and amusing to try for just a few moments.

Updated 10:51 am, May 29 to clarify that while Hemmingsson lives in Berlin, he is Swedish.

Senior news editor at Gizmodo

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