People living with speech disabilities or the ones who are congenitally born without the power of speech often have difficulty expressing themselves. Sign language is not widely known. Therefore verbally disabled people find it difficult to communicate with new acquaintances. But there might be a solution for that in the future.
The SignAloud gloves are a wonderful new invention for people with speech disabilities. The gloves were developed by two Washington University undergraduates, Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor. They came up with this idea for the Lemelson MIT Student Prize, which is a nationwide search across the USA for the most inventive undergraduate and graduate students.
The SignAloud gloves can
translate American Sign Language into speech ando text. It can recognize hand
gestures that correspond to words in American Sign Language. Wondering how they
do that? Well, there are sensors in each of the
gloves that record the position of the hand and the movement. The recorded data
is sent wirelessly to a central computer with the help of Bluetooth.
The computer processes the data through various chronological numerical regressions, similar to the nervous system. As soon as the data matches a gesture, then the correlated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker.
Navid and Thomas developed the product in the UW CoMotion MakerSpace. It’s a space within the university campus that offers tools and equipment for students to carry out innovations and experiments. Azodi and Pryor, therefore found the perfect facility within the campus to develop and hone their unique device. Turning the idea into a reality was their primary goal. This meant that they had to find an ergonomic design to translate American Sign Language into a verbal form instantly and efficiently.
The duo feels that most of the sign language conversion devices out there are not at all practical for everyday use. Some of them apply video input, while some have sensors that cover the user’s entire arm or body. The SignAloud gloves are light, compact and worn only on the hands. The smart ergonomic design will enable the user to use them as an everyday accessory, similar to hearing aids or contact lenses.
Pryor and Azodi’s target audience initially was the hearing impaired community and the ones interested in learning the American Sign Language. But future commercial use of the gloves could include medical technology to monitor stroke patients during rehabilitation, motion control and increased agility in virtual reality.