University of Washington students Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor took home a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize back in 2016 for smart gloves that can translate sign language into text or speech, and now, we might be one step closer to seeing them on shelves. Called “SignAloud,” these gloves are capable of recognizing hand gestures that correspond to words and phrases in American Sign Language. Each one comes equipped with sensors that record hand position and movement and send data wirelessly over Bluetooth to a computer. Read more for a video and additional information.
The computer then looks at the gesture data through various sequential statistical regressions, similar to how an AI-powered neural network would, and if the data matches a gesture, an associated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker. Eventually, the duo hope these gloves will be readily available for the deaf and hearing impaired community. In the future, the gloves could also be commercialized for use in other fields, like medical technology and for enhanced dexterity in virtual reality.
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Many of the sign language translation devices already out there are not practical for everyday use. Some use video input, while others have sensors that cover the user’s entire arm or body. Our gloves are lightweight, compact and worn on the hands, but ergonomic enough to use as an everyday accessory, similar to hearing aids or contact lenses,” said Thomas Pryor, an undergraduate researcher in the Composite Structures Laboratory in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics and software lead for the Husky Robotics Team.