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Student's smart glove converts sign language into text and speech

A student's invention could make communication for the impaired easier to manage.


Student Hadeel Ayoub has invented a smart glove which translates sign language into speech.

Those with difficulties with spoken language or hearing can find communicating difficult. This problem may be intensified if others do not understand sign language, which replaces words with gestures. However, a student from Goldsmiths, University of London has decided to tackle the problem with a glove that converts these gestures into understandable text on a display or audible dialogue.

Revealed this week, the wireless SignLanguageGlove is designed to make communication easier for those with impediments or disabilities, and has already gone through three prototype stages.

The original version of the SignLanguageGlove interpreted gestures made by the user into visual letters on a screen and comprised of sensors, a microcontroller board and a four digit graphic numerical display. Five flex sensors were also installed on the glove to track five fingers. The second prototype was more efficient and used smaller software, while the newest third version incorporates a text-to-speech chip. The majority of the gloves' equipment is sewn into the lining.

"I didn't want all the wires to intimidate users, making them feel the glove will be complicated to use or really fragile," Hadeel explained. "People tend to lean to the cautious side when approached with new high-tech products which contradicts the main purpose of this glove, which is to help make lives easier."

Hadeel is now working on a version of the device that will include an accompanying smartphone application, which will receive the glove's output through Wi-Fi. The student also hopes to eventually integrate a translation feature which will allow for real-time translation in multiple languages, a motion sensor for better mapping and a small glove which would be suitable for children.

However, the latter is likely to prove challenging as the glove's hardware will need to be minimized to become small and light enough for young users.

Speaking to Motherboard, the student said the next version will be able to send texts and emails based on the glove's interpretation of gestures.

Companies interested in producing the glove have approached Hadeel, and the fourth prototype is expected to cost approximately £255 ($385) to produce -- but if mass produced, this expenditure will drop.

"I had one mission when I started this project and it was to facilitate communication between all kinds of disabilities, eliminating barriers between people who have a visual, hearing or speech impairment," Hadeel said. "Once I've incorporated Wi-Fi and translation features into it the glove will be useful for all."

This story originally posted as " Student's smart glove translates sign language into speech" on ZDNet.