For deaf people it’s hard to communicate. Not everyone knows sign language and because of that the are isolated from a lot of things. A regular conversation in the grocery store is impossible or going to a party is also not that much fun if everyone is dancing and you cannot hear the beat. In the United States 4,022,334 have a hearing disability. We still cannot make people hear again, but two students are trying to make it a lot easier for them to communicate.
What is it?
Two students of the University of Washington, Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor are the developers of SignAloud. They designed a pair of gloves that translate sign language into words. Their inspiration came from a personal experience from Navid. He didn’t speak until he was 7 years’ old, he only used non-verbal communication. And that’s where the interest started of solving this problem. The gloves record your hand movements using sensors, then the gloves send that data to a computer who matches the movement with words. If there is a match the word or phrase will be spoken through a speaker. They don’t have the entire sign vocabulary, but the foundation to build on is set. Their goal is to develop the gloves to a point where they could be used everyday by people in the deaf community.
“Because sign language is such a unique and important and special culture that we never want something like this to get in the way of that, we just want this to break down barriers and build bridges in between different languages.”
Why is it cool?
As the two students say, it’s an early stage but the basic technology could be used in the future in other industries, like health care, education, virtual reality and gaming. This makes it very cross-sector. It’s combining togetherness and inline in one glove. You will hear the words via a computer but you have to have the conversation offline.It will improve the quality of life enormous of the deaf people. They can participate in a daily conversation. And don’t have to feel isolated as much anymore. There are some translation devices but they are not for everyday use. The gloves are lightweight, small and worn on the hands. You can use it as an everyday accessory, it’s similar to contact lenses or hearing devices.