A Louder Voice: Gloves that Automatically Convert Sign Language to Text

Khryss | Published 2017-07-24 13:17

American Sign Language (ASL) is the predominant sign language of deaf communities in the United States and Canada. It has helped deaf people communicate better and easier. Moreover, with the rise of technology, this useful way of conversing had its more recent upgrade.

For less than a hundred dollars, researchers at UC San Diego have created a glove that automatically translates ASL alphabet into digital text!

The glove contains two flexible strain sensors for every finger and a sensor in the thumb. These sensors measure changes in electrical resistance when force is applied to it. Together, these parts can form different letters in the ASL alphabet based on different combinations of electrical resistance. Based on that, a small computer on the glove then indicates which letter the wearer is signing. After that, the data is sent via Bluetooth to a computer or a smartphone to convert it into text.

Although this glove isn't the first attempt on translating sign language into text immediately, according to researchers at the University of California San Diego, it is the most adaptable. Other technologies that deliver this output uses cameras and an infrared transmitter to track movement, which is why these are quite expensive and tend to be stationary. Hence, this ASL translation glove is very helpful especially to those people who aren’t fluent in ASL but would want to communicate to deaf people.

“For thousands of people in the UK, sign language is their first language,” says technology research manager Jesal Vishnuram at the charity Action on Hearing Loss who wasn’t involved in the study. “Many have little or no written English. Technology like this will completely change their lives.”

However, according to researchers, this glove's just the beginning. Since this technology is versatile, the glove can even be soon used to control robots. “One application in the pipe line is a 3D printed robot hand that we can control using the glove,” says Timothy O’Connor, who is working on the technology. This technology can also be used as an interface for virtual environments or even to control a drone.

Thanks to today's advancements, almost every voice can now be heard.



Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!