United States (Seattle)
Two students who connected over a shared interest in invention and problem-solving have designed a pair of gloves that translate American Sign Language into text and spoken English. Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi from the University of Washington are the $10,000 Lemelson-MIT ‘Use it!’ Undergraduate Winners for their invention SignAloud.
SignAloud gloves recognise gestures that correspond to words and phrases by using sensors that record hand position and movement and send data wirelessly via Bluetooth to a central computer. Various sequential statistical regressions, similar to a neural network, match gestures, with the corresponding words spoken through a speaker.
“Our purpose for developing these gloves was to provide an easy-to-use bridge between native speakers of American Sign Language and the rest of the world,” explains Azodi. “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.”
As well as helping the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, the gloves could potentially find use in medical technology to monitor stroke rehabilitation, gesture control and enhanced dexterity in virtual reality.
Watch as the students demonstrate the gloves in action:
Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi
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