April 26, 2016
Everyone wants to learn a foreign language. And while there are hundreds of devices and apps that can make your bilingual dream a reality, sign language remains a difficult task to tackle. But with technology constantly fighting the obstacles of progress, two students from the University of Washington have come up with a way to make the hand-focused language more accessible than ever.
SignAloud is the name given to these technologically advanced gloves. They have the ability to sense the users hand motions and recite the words in question. It can even be used to provide text when auditory options are not available. Using Bluetooth, the gloves send hand motions to a computer that, using statistical regression, decides what the user is most likely trying to say.
Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi are the young geniuses behind the technology. The gloves were invented as part of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize competition, which they naturally won, receiving a $10,000 grant to continue to produce the product. They are more than excited about its initial success and future applications in everyday life.
“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 Pryor in a press release.
While other sign language translation devices exist on the market, practical products are few and far between. The key to SignAloud’s initial success is that it makes translating sign language easy. The gloves are small, the tech is smaller and, while they look hideous, designs are no doubt being thrown around to make them match with your favorite shirt. Other products rely on a wide range of bulky, impractical technology to get the job done. And that’s just too much for most.
“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,” explained Pryor.
Translating sign language is an impressive feat on its own. But these masters of technology are not stopping there. They believe this technology will be used for a wide range of other purposes. Whether it be monitoring potential stroke victims or improving dexterity and focus in virtual reality programs, the guys behind SignAloud are hoping to change the world, one word at a time.
Check out a demo of the amazing technology in the video below.
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