Scientists just developed a new high-tech glove that could translate sign language into speech in real-time, possibly enabling deaf people to communicate directly with anyone without needing a human translator. According to CNN’s latest report, sensors that run along with the thumb and other four fingers are used to identify each letter, word, and phrase in American Sign Language.
A smartphone translates the sign signals received wirelessly into spoken words at a rate of one word every second. The project was developed by scientists at UCLA, believing that innovation could provide deaf people with easier communication.
“Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said Jun Chen, the lead researcher of the project.
“In addition, we hope it can help more people learn sign language themselves,” he added. The Journal Nature Electronics published the results of the new project.
According to Nature Electronics, the wearable sign-to-speech translation system consists of wireless printed circuit boards and yarn-based stretchable sensor arrays (YSSAs). The YSSA can conform to both stretching and releasing states of the skin of a human finger, owing to its unique structural design and the use of soft materials.
The new technology converts hand gesture movements into an electrical signal using the sensor arrays. Multiple functions such as processing, signal conditioning, and wireless transmission, are integrated by the wireless PCB worn the wrist using available integrated circuit components.
According to the published work, sign language translation devices have been created based on the piezoresistive, electromyography, ionic conduction, the capacitive effect, and image processing and photography. However, a number of issues, including their structural complexity, limit the widespread use of these techniques, as well as the large-scale production.
According to CNN, the American Sign Language in the United States is used between 100,000 and 1 million people. The report stated that the other dominant sign language in the English-speaking world, British Sign Language, will not be translated by the new high-tech glove. The British Deaf Association stated that the BSL is used by 151,000 adults in the United Kingdom.
To capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language, adhesive sensors were added by the researchers to the faces of the people, between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths, which were used to test the device. Compared to the wearable systems developed in the previous attempts, to create a live sign language translating device, Chen claimed that the new glove is lighter.
The report stated that more than 70 million deaf people across the globe use more than 300 sign languages.
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