SignAloud Glove That Translates ASL Into English

These students built a glove that translates American Sign Language into English.

SEATTLE, WA -- Fast Company: A pair of undergraduates at the University of Washington made a glove that translates gestures in American Sign Language (ASL) into English and speaks it via speakers. The SignAloud glove won them a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize and international attention. Now they're figuring out how to refine their gadget for social good...and make sure they pass their college exams.

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The SignAloud glove captures ASL gestures with sensors that measure everything from XYZ coordinates to the way individual fingers flex or bend. That sensor data is sent via Bluetooth to a nearby computer and fed into coding algorithms that categorize the gestures, which are translated into English and then audibly spoken via speaker. But co-creator Navid Azodi emphasizes that SignAloud is still very much in a prototype phase.

"Keep in mind, we have by no means captured the entire language and we’re nowhere near that. [ASL] is more than just words and phrases, and we know that. It has complex grammar structures. What we eventually want to get is for SignAloud to categorize a majority of the language," says Azodi.

The two creators, Azodi and fellow sophomore Thomas Pryor, planned and built SignAloud in their dorms and the school’s CoMotion MakerSpace. After a rough first version built on cardboard and string, they put together the current working prototype for about a hundred bucks in parts.

"Many of the sign language translation devices already out there are not practical for everyday use. Some use video input, while others have sensors that cover the user’s entire arm or body," says Pryor in a UW press release.

Innovating past existing limitations is what earned the team the $10,000 award, which Azodi isn’t sure how they will spend. The money could help pay their tuition or perhaps even get them a nice dinner, Azodi jokes, but refining their gadget is top priority. Both are motivated by SignAloud’s possibilities, both as an input device and an empowerment tool... Read The Full Story.

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