Researchers at UCLA have made a breakthrough in sign language technology: a high-tech glove that translates sign language in real time.
Although the concept of translating sign language using a glove isn’t exactly new, this latest advancement is indeed something special. This new glove can translate an astounding 660 American Sign Language (ASL) signs at a rate of 60 words per minute!
It does this in real time, with 98.63 accuracy… much better than anything else out there. It can also translate both written and spoken words.
But the most promising aspect is that the glove is designed to be affordable. The parts cost about $50 to make, meaning the final product won’t be prohibitively expensive.
Cool! So… how does it work?!
The gloves are made with sensors that can stretch, allowing them to monitor complex hand movements.
These sensors are spread throughout each of the five fingers. The glove itself is made of special yarn that tracks the electrical signals generated by finger movements.
The signals are sent to a small circuit board on the back side of the glove. The signal is analyzed and transmitted to a smartphone, where an app translates the signals into text.
Now, if you know ASL, then you may be wondering: “What about facial expressions?” Facial expressions are an important part of ASL – and the UCLA researchers are accounting for that. They’re currently testing adhesive facial sensors that capture expressions in real time, also translating those signals into the final written or spoken message.
A good sign for the future of ASL translation
Although the technology behind ASL translation has existed for a while (and there are many effective tools to assist the deaf), this new glove brings a fresh approach to the concept.
Some critics argue that the glove isn’t as practical as existing methods, such as using an interpreter – however, this glove will be more accessible, and can serve as an excellent supplement when other tools aren’t available. It’s also a great way to introduce people to ASL!
The glove is still a prototype and is expected to release sometime next year. It’s still nameless at this point… which leaves us with only one question: What should it be called?! If you have a bright idea, be sure to leave it in the comments below!