Have you ever been in the position where you’ve had to communicate with a person from the deaf community? It is a daunting task for some to attempt communication with a person who has that disability due to not understanding sign language. Two students from the University of Washington intend to redesign the way deaf people communicate with tech-gloves called Sign Aloud. The students (Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi) won a competition named the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize that searched the United States for new inventions from students. The Sign Aloud gloves can be worn by a deaf person, who then would talk sign language and the tech attached to the gloves would convert the sign language movements into text or speech.
Talking to UW Today, the students said: “Our purpose of developing these gloves was to provide an easy-to-use bridge between native speakers of American Sign Language and the rest of the world. The idea initially came out of our shared interest in invention and problem solving. But coupling it with our belief that communication is a fundamental human right, we set out to make it more accessible to a larger audience.”
To see what it is capable of, check out this video:
The two students are calling it an American Sign Language Translator. The gloves have sensors connected to the hands and the wrist that measure hand position and movement. Then through Bluetooth, the data is sent to a program coded by the students that convert the movements into actual text or speech.
Some online commenters are saying $10,000 is not enough money to jumpstart the project and have encouraged the students to either start a Kickstarter page or take the idea to Shark Tank – a reality program for inventors – to get their gloves funded.
Pryor and Azodi say that the gloves for right now are a prototype and require clunky elements like a laptop and the gloves themselves. The students say that the future of the product could be an app on a smartphone. However, their prototype right now seems to be a working, functional method of converting sign language into text and speech, that is understandable to able-bodied people.