Ukraine team wins Imagine Cup with gloves that convert sign language to speech

July 11, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org) -- For about a decade, Microsoft has been running a competition called the Imagine Cup that rewards people for developing innovative ideas using Microsoft products. This year the competition was held in Sydney Australia, and the winner in the software category was quadSquad from Ukraine for a system they call EnableTalk; a truly unique and useful system that allows hearing impaired people who rely on sign language to communicate to those who can hear by employing a pair of sensor enabled gloves that are able to capture sign language gestures, translate them to text and then have the words spoken using a text-to-speech translator on a cell phone. For their efforts the team won $25,000 in prize money and likely the gratitude of millions once the gloves make it to market.

The gloves work through the use of five : flex sensors in the gloves record finger movements and a main controller coordinates information from an accelerometer/compass, an /gyroscope, a and a Bluetooth module. Windows mobile software was used to convert the gesture commands to sound signals for broadcast by the Bluetooth module. The are converted to voice using Microsoft Speech and Bing APIs running on a Smartphone, which ultimately serves as the voice for the person using the system. The team, made up of members identified as AntonStepanov, MaxOsika, Scizor60 and mentor dmitrtys, told the audience watching the demonstration of EnableTalk that the whole thing costs only about $50 per system (not including cell phone) and that they believe it could be brought down to $20 when mass produced. Conventional systems meant to pull off the same feat, but offer less sensitivity, typically run into the thousands of dollars.

The team said the idea for their system came from the frustration they experienced when trying to communicate with hearing impaired athletes at their school. They also noted that the system can be easily tweaked by the user to incorporate custom signs and thus can be used for virtually any dialect. The point they say is to help those with hearing impairments better manage in the world of the hearing. The problem with sign language they point out, is that most people who can hear never learn it, thus those with hearing impairments are only able to communicate with a small part of the general population which generally includes those who cannot hear and those in their immediate circle. This new system they say, will allow those with hearing impairments to communicate with anyone.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Explore further: It's all in the hands: Signing simplified

Related Stories

Glove designers plan messaging path for deaf-blind

April 7, 2012

(Phys.org) -- People coping with the double absence of vision and hearing can communicate via mobile devices with the help of a special glove, now under development in Germany’s Design Research Lab. The Mobile Lorm Glove ...

Recommended for you

How to curb emissions? Put a price on carbon

September 3, 2015

Literally putting a price on carbon pollution and other greenhouse gasses is the best approach for nurturing the rapid growth of renewable energy and reducing emissions.

Customizing 3-D printing

September 3, 2015

The technology behind 3-D printing is growing more and more common, but the ability to create designs for it is not. Any but the simplest designs require expertise with computer-aided design (CAD) applications, and even for ...

Team develops targeted drug delivery to lung

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a new method that can target delivery of very small volumes of drugs into the lung. Their approach, in which micro-liters ...

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.