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Surprising Science

New Sensory Gloves Translate Sign Language into Speech

A team of Ukrainian students have created sensory gloves which translate sign language, including its various regional dialects, into speech and also won a $25,000 prize for their invention. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Three Ukrainian students have developed a pair of sensory gloves that turn sign language into spoken language, possibly enabling millions of hearing-impaired people to communicate better with those around them. Called EnableTalk, the gloves consist of two parts: “The first is a pair of gloves fitted with 15 sensors that determine what gestures are being signed. The second is Windows software for smartphones that converts those gestures, transmitted via Bluetooth, into sound waves. Those sound waves are finally translated into recognizable speech using Microsoft’s Speech and Bing APIs.”

What’s the Big Idea?

For their invention, the three students were awarded first prize and $25,000 in Microsoft’s annual Imagine Cup. “Those who use the gloves can both modify its standard library of gestures as well as teach it new ones that fall outside of standard sign language. That’s incredibly helpful when you consider that sign language, much like any other language, has a variety of regional dialects.” The price of the gloves will first be set at $50, making them affordable to just about everyone, and if the gloves enter mass production, the price is expected to fall to $20.

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