This is why we love technology. Sure, a lot of gadgets are made just for fashion, fetish or one-upsmanship, but every once in awhile something of socially redeeming value comes along. In this case, it's sign language on mobile phones.
Taking a generational leap beyond text messaging, the University of Washington's "MobileASL" project is working on video-compression technology that would improve transmission quality so that American Sign Language gestures would be recognizable on cell phones. "It uses skin-detection algorithms to zoom in on those specific areas in the video that contain essential movements used to communicate via ASL--typically, hand, face and arm movements," according to Popgadget.
The researchers are reportedly negotiating with phone makers and carriers to get the software into their products.