High-Tech Smart Glove Translates Sign Language Into Text And Speech

A student from Goldsmiths, University of London has created a 'smart glove' that can translate sign language into text and speech. Designer and media artist Hadeel Ayoub has begun working on upgrading this to real-time translation, but this development is an amazing start.

The glove comprises of an accelerometer, a microcontroller board and a four-digit graphic numerical display connected to five flex sensors in the fingers. This can detect overall rotation in the hands, as well as finite finger movements. Hadeel also created a computer program to compliment this hardware and interpret the data being received, matching it to a database of statements and showing what letters you signed out.

The second prototype was smaller, better, faster and more durable. With the smaller microcontrollers and improved software, she could allow interpreted text to scroll across the screen, deleting the old and adding the new. The third, which was shown Goldsmiths MA/MFA Computational Arts end-of-degree show earlier this month, is about making it look more like a consumer product.

"I didn't want all the wires to intimidate users, making them feel the glove will be complicated to use or really fragile," Hadeel explains. "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."

For future version, Hadeel is already working on smartphone app, which can interpret the signals over WiFi. She is also working into multilingual versions to broaden the worldwide horizons of the project.

What's more, she's been approached by several companies, interested in taking this into production. It will cost £255 to produce, but the hope is people with disabilities do not have to pay for it. 

"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. The prototypes each have a new additional feature, an LED light, and a speaker for example, that took me one step closer to my goal," Hadeel added. "Once I've incorporated WiFi and translation features into it the glove will be useful for all – no exclusions as to who the user can reach, wherever, whoever, from any country at any time."