This high-tech sign language glove could speak to your smartphone

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Cat Mules

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A new innovation from UCLA can translate sign language with 99-percent accuracy.

A high-tech, inexpensive glove could allow sign language of the future to be translated into written and spoken words on a smartphone.

UCLA researchers have created a real-time system that can interpret 600 American Sign Language signs with a 98.63 accuracy.

One day, this glove could transform how many of us understand sign language, and how we can help deaf people communicate with non-sign language users.


How does it work?

The gloves have stretchable sensors comprised of electrically-sensing yarn that runs between each of the five fingers. The signals travel to the back of the glove via a dollar coin-sized circuit board.

This transmits wireless signals to a smartphone app, that converts them into text almost instantly (60 words per minutes).

The development of the gloves involved placing adhesive sensors on testers’ faces to capture the facial expressions that reflect American Sign Language.

This is not a new concept yet UCLA’s researchers say their prototype gloves are much more user-friendly, more comfortable, less bulky, than previous designs.

The device is intended to help communication between signers and non-signers. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” UCLA assistant professor Jun Chen told Fast Company.

The device could also serve as an educational tool. “We hope it can help more people learn sign language themselves,” said Chen.

The device uniquely relies on low manufacture cost, with some parts only costing about $50 which Chen says could drop even more with large scale production.

Yet it is still in prototype-mode – with speed and programming of a wider understanding of signs remaining key.

And, as with many ground-breaking innovations, the device has been subject to questions. “It would be so much easier if tech focused on user-driven and user-centered design in the first instance,” deaf post-doctoral researcher Gabrielle Hodge told CNN.

Manufacture of the device is low-cost, with some parts only costing around $50, and this could drop even lower with large scale production, Chen said.

Research cited from Fast Company.


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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

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