New High-Tech Glove Translates Sign Language Into Speech

Like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, a new high-tech glove is in the works that could potentially change everything for individuals dependent on sign language as their main source of communication. The intent of this ingenious new invention is to translate sign language into text and speech, and if it's successful it would be considered a significant contribution to the world of communication science. The young designer responsible for its development is a student at Goldsmiths, University of London, by the name of Hadeel Ayoub, whose main goal in engineering the glove is to improve communication between "the hearing, speech and visually impaired."

 

New smart glove designed to translate sign language to speech: Image by Hadeel Ayoub via TumblrNew smart glove designed to translate sign language to speech: Image by Hadeel Ayoub via Tumblr

 

Sign Language


Worn by signers, the invention works by using multiple flex sensors which are attached to the glove's fingers for recording their position. An accelerometer (that's basically a speedometer for us laymen) tracks which direction the glove is positioned while the data is simultaneously read by a computer program which identifies the gestures and then displays or verbalizes the correct output -- hopefully. We all know how accurate programs designed to recognize speech are or intuitive software. Insert visions of Damn Auto Correct! here.

 

Smart glove prototype diagram: Image by Hadeel Ayoub via TumblrSmart glove prototype diagram: Image by Hadeel Ayoub via Tumblr

 

No More Sweaty Palms


The current configuration is the third in a line of prototypes experimented with so far and contains a text-to-speech chip to audibly verbalize what's being signed. This latest edition will allow the blind to actually hear what the signer signs rather than hold or cup their hand throughout an entire conversation. While this glove has the potential for revolutionizing communications between the hearing and speech impaired, Ayoub's — like many other young female designers — intentions are that ultimately it will be free of cost to end users. At this point, the upper shell or skin of the prototype appears to be made from a batter's glove with the lion's share of the components sewn to the outside of the inner skin or liner, which closely resembles a latex glove.

 

Smart glove sign language translator prototype III: Image by Hadeel Ayoub via TumblrSmart glove sign language translator prototype III: Image by Hadeel Ayoub via Tumblr

 

Developmental Stages of Smart Glove


Still in the developmental stage, the next prototype — which has reportedly been code named "Reach All" — is being designed with an eye toward connecting to smartphones through a Wi-Fi chip. Once this is accomplished, the smart glove could theoretically speak to anyone in the world. The full report on the project, complete with diagrams and photographs, is entitled Sign Language with Arduino, and it's actually quite fascinating. Straight forward and easy to digest, it's recommended reading if you're interested in this kind of thing.