Students Invented Gloves that Convert Sign Language into Speech

Americas, January 27 2017

Two University of Washington undergraduates have developed gloves that can translate sign language into text or speech.

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UW pre-engineering sophomore Thomas Pryor demonstrates the “SignAloud” gloves that won a 2016 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. Photo: University of Washington

Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi are the Undergraduate Winners of the Lemelson-MIT competition for their entry of the SignAloud.

Their invention, “SignAloud,” is a pair of gloves that can recognize hand gestures that correspond to words and phrases in American Sign Language.

Each glove contains sensors that record hand position and movement and send data wirelessly via Bluetooth to a central computer.

The computer looks at the gesture data through various sequential statistical regressions, similar to a neural network. If the data match a gesture, then the associated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker.

“Our gloves are lightweight, compact and worn on the hands, but ergonomic enough to use as an everyday accessory, similar to hearing aids or contact lenses,” said Pryor.

“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,” Azodi said.

“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.”

See how the SignAloud works in video below.

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