Communication Aids23rd April 2015

VisiTalks: Developing Sign Language Tranlsation Gloves

Brothers hoping to help Deaf signers talk directly with others using movement sensors

by SL First Tech Team

 Recently another automatic sign language translation device has popped up on crowd funding website Indiegogo. This time it's two brothers, Igor and Vlad Dudnyk, from Bulgaria who are hoping to change the lives of Deaf sign language users around the world with their VisiTalks system.

They have undertaken research in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University and claim that the way they are combining the software and hardware is the first time this has been done to facilitate real-time communication between Deaf and hearing people. They hope that their system will allow sign language users ‘to talk’ and those that don't understand sign language, to sign – allowing them to commuicate without needing to rely on written language or an interpreter/translator.

Here's a short clip they made about how they think it'll work:

 So as you can see in clip, the Deaf person will be wearing their new high-tech gloves full of motion sensors that will track the user's hand and arm movements and then automatically convert that into spoken language. They want to offer the user a choice of gender and accent options too – so a British Deaf lady doesn't have to put up with having an American male accent – she can choose the British female voice to better match her personality and also make it less confusing for naïve hearing participants.

They've also said their system will be compatible with multiple sign languages including American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL). That setting will also change how the Deaf participant will receive the information - when the hearing person is speaking, the deaf person will be shown subtitles on their screen, but it also provides a "set of animated gestures" which will correspond to the chosen sign language.

The Dudnyks hope that their device and software can remove some of the communication barriers between Deaf and hearing people and particularly with the difficulties of contacting local authorities and government. They say their project is non-commercial and the application will be completely free to use so anyone can download it from their website, although there's no mention about the cost of hardware anywhere – it does seem highly unlikely that they'll be giving that out for free so that's still unclear at the moment.

They're trying to raise $42,500 (around £28,300) to fund further development of VisiTalk, including the sensors, software and operating costs.  If you'd like to know more about their project you can check out their website, and if you'd like to help fund their project to get it started, you should visit their Indiegogo page.

Article by SL First Tech Team

posted in Technology / Communication Aids

23rd April 2015