High-tech glove to translate sign language into speech in real time

A breakthrough in the world of sign language is on its way, with the development of a glove that translates sign language into speech in real-time.

The wearable device will potentially allow deaf people to communicate with anyone and everyone without the need for a translator.

sign language, glove, deaf communication, research

Scientists have developed a high-tech glove that will allow deaf people to communicate in real-time with anyone and everyone.

The gloves will include stretchable sensors that run the length of the five fingers, that pick up hand motions and finger placements before sending those signals wirelessly to a smartphone.

Developed with lightweight and inexpensive technology, the gloves are said to translate the signals into spoken words at a rate of one word per second.

Assistant professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, Jun Chen said, “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them.”

Chen also hoped the technology would allow for more people to learn the language stating, “In addition, we hope it can help more people learn sign language themselves.”

The researchers have also added sensors to the faces of people used to test the device in order to capture facial expressions that are part of American Sign Language.

Reliable estimates of people using American Sign Language state that between 250,000 to 500,000 are using the language.

While the device will be a breakthrough for those in the United States, the glove does not yet translate the British Sign Language or Auslan, which is the major sign language of the Australian deaf community and is used by about 20,000 people.

Despite its apparent advancement for sign language, the innovation hasn’t avoided criticism.

Associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at Gallaudet University, Julie A. Hochgesang said, “What inventions like signing glove totally ignore is the fact that deaf people are the ones living these daily lives in the hearing communities the inventors try to serve.”

She continued, “Deaf communities are heterogeneous in how people identify themselves. Inventions like signing gloves pigeonhole deaf people and put the communication burden on deaf people.”