Communication Aids11th December 2014

Microsoft Promoting Sign Language Recognition

Microsoft opening access to their Kinect / Sign language research project

by SL First

Microsoft (the company that makes Windows, Office and Xboxes) has recently announced that they’re to do more research on Sign Language Recognition. They’re hoping that with their Kinect technology, as used by the Xbox, they can improve communications between sign language users and hearing people.

Back in 2012, Microsoft Research made a start with the Kinect Sign Language project in partnership with two Chinese Universities. They created a computer ‘sign language translator’ that allowed conversations to take place between people who could sign and those who couldn’t; it recognised (Chinese) sign language and turned it into spoken language and also allowed people to speak and the computer would generate sign language via a computer avatar (animated character).

In November this year, a new group was formed; a research community that includes an open website to share all the data they’ve learned so far. They expect that by sharing their information, databases and research with the world they can encourage experts from other universities and countries to join the research group and make faster progress. Their current database contains information on around 4,500 Chinese Sign Language words that they’ve collected from 30 different sign language users. This providers other researchers with data to check and compare their software and also how it might adapt to new people that it’s never been tested with previously.

It is hoped that by opening up this information, other countries will join and contribute information about their sign languages too. It’s an impossible task for a single country to achieve alone, so by collaborating  and working together the community will have a better chance of turning their ideas into reality – a simple and reliable form of communication between all Deaf and hearing people.

Article by SL First

posted in Technology / Communication Aids

11th December 2014