Ukrainian students design gloves that can turn sign language into speech via a smartphone:
The gloves, which can be used for phone calls or face–to-face conversations, combine sensors on the fingers with a controller that analyzes hand motions in the air, compares them to a library of sign language, and then generates the verbal equivalent of the sign through a smartphone. They use flex sensors, gyroscopes, touch sensors, and accelerometers and can be adjusted to any form of sign language. There are an estimated 360 million people globally who are deaf or hard of hearing, according to the World Health Organization. The goal of the gloves is to allow the estimated 70 million people who use sign language to communicate with people who don’t. Enable Talk won first place in the innovation category, beating 350 students from 75 countries. The prize included US$25,000 to help with development and testing.
“Once we started talking, it all sort of clicked,” said Maxim Osika, a member of Team Quad Squad. “We wanted to create something that could help them in their pursuit to communicate. The hearing-impaired students try really hard to do the best they can, but sometimes it’s really difficult.”
Maxim and the others researched the idea and were surprised to learn that no such devices are available on the market. The team decided it would create a pair of gloves that could translate sign language into spoken word.
That day, Enable Talk was born.
They started building the prototype for the gloves in January 2012 and worked though weekends and nights to finish in time for the Microsoft 2012 Imagine Cup in Sydney, Australia, in July.