With the SignAloud gloves, American Sign Language users will soon have a new way to be heard! The SignAloud gloves translate ASL into speech and text in real time, making it easier for the deaf and hard of hearing to communicate.
The gloves are made with sensors embedded (stuck in) the fabric and a Bluetooth unit that lets the gloves send information to a computer. These sensors are able to track the motion of the hands and fingers as they sign in ASL.
The information about the hand movements is then sent to a computer though Bluetooth, which compares the movements to a huge library of sign language gestures to determine which sign the user meant. The word or phrase is the translated into speech or text.
The SignAloud gloves were invented by two students named Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor, from the University of Washington.The SignAloud gloves are not the first ASL-to-Speech tools every made, but they are more comfortable and easier to use than other devices. Some of the devices use video to track the hand gestures, and other devices cover the whole arm!
Thomas Pryor, who helped invent the glove, says that he believes the SignAloud is easier for everyday use. “Our gloves are lightweight, compact and worn on the hands, but ergonomic enough to use as an everyday accessory, similar to hearing aids or contact lenses,” says Pryor.
Pryor and Azodi think the gloves will be very helpful to the deaf and hard of hearing community, by giving them another way to communicate with people. The gloves could also be used to teach American Sign Language to people, or even one day be used to play virtual reality video games!
Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodo won the $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for their SignAloud gloves. They hope to use the money to improve their invention, and get it ready for the world.