Gloves Translate Sign Language to Speech

Greg Tito

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Sep 29, 2005
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Gloves Translate Sign Language to Speech



You might soon talk with your hands, thanks to the winner of the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012.

Remember that 1995 movie Congo with the gorilla that could talk using sign language and a voice modulator? Well, it only took about 20 years, but the technology to make such a device real finally caught up to campy Hollywood films. At Microsoft's annual design competition called the Imagine Cup, a group from the Ukraine won the Software Design category for EnableTalk. In truth, the pair of gloves covered in sensors wouldn't have done much without the software to translate hand movements to something a computer could understand, and then communicate with Microsoft's voice programming API to export actual speech. That all of that happens in real time using simple hardware is pretty amazing, and EnableTalk earned the Ukrainian Quadsquad team $25,000.

The four members of Quadsquad (get it?) got the idea to make these gloves when they tried to interact with deaf classmates at their school. The team spent time building the prototype using custom made flex sensors, touch sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers to gather as much data from the hand motions as possible. Transmitting that data via Bluetooth to a Windows Mobile-powered cellphone was just a stroke of genius.

Now that EnableTalk won the prize, the group will now turn to trying to sell the glove and software combo. The prototype's materials only cost around $75, and the group plans to sell the unit for $200 each. That might sound like a huge markup, but similar products (using less sensors, a wired connection, with no integrated voice support) cost about $1,200.

The applications for EnableTalk are plentiful. Hearing impaired and deaf people could use them to converse with people who don't know sign language, allowing them to lead more normal lives. Severely autistic or handicapped patients could use them to speak to loved ones. We could even go full circle and use these gloves to communicate with animals.

Somebody call Bruce Campbell, it's time for Congo 2. Amy. Good girl. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxhXJGA32YI]

Source: EnableTalk [http://enabletalk.com/index.html]

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kajinking

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For some reason all I could think about while reading this is the deaf girl from Katawa Shoujo.
 

DTWolfwood

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i like this on so many levels. I don't have to learn a new language to speak to the mute! :D

Now all they need is to reverse the technology for the ppl like me to speak to the deaf :p
 

saintdane05

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kajinking said:
For some reason all I could think about while reading this is the deaf girl from Katawa Shoujo.
Shizune! Ah, I love her even if her path sucked.
 

Nexxis

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This is very cool. I attend a university who has a huge deaf community and program, and I'm sure they would love this. I also think this could work for people who're trying to learn sign language as it would translate the hand motions so people can see if they're doing it right.
 

kajinking

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Alterego-X said:
kajinking said:
For some reason all I could think about while reading this is the deaf girl from Katawa Shoujo.
The reason is that Katawa Shoujo is awesome.
May have a bit more to do with how this would make Misha totally pointless WAHAHAHAHA!!!
 

Thaluikhain

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Hey, that's awesome.

Also, yeah, immediately thought of that movie when I saw the headline...which was prefectly accurate as well.
 

Twilight.falls

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Hey, obligatory Katawa Shoujo post.


Also, this is, in my opinion, one of the coolest technological advances I've heard of recently.

I mean, the Higgs is nice, but I can't understand that. This I understand perfectly.
 

Kae

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Wait call Bruce Campbell for Congo II?
But wasn't he dead before the movie even began?
I mean the only scene I remember seeing him on was when they found his corpse, and that's it, maybe it's a prequel?
 

InsipidMadness

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Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh, I feel there's a lack of cultural sensitivity on this. (Mainly because I hardly know any private/public school that offers education towards Deaf and Hard of Hearing Culture. So having to elaborate what a Deaf person is by using the example of a signing monkey...)

OT: That's great and all, but it'll just turn into more mainstreaming of Deaf kids and Deaf adults which is nice and all, but not the greatest. First, I'll admit that since it requires actual sign language to function, then it's not completely killing a culture (like ignorance and cochlear implants), but where's the device that gets us to talk to them? Hearing people rarely have the patience to cooperate and give equal communication and we look for the quickest ways to mainstream them. So, great, they can talk to us, now how can we talk to them?

To be blunt, to further explain my point, it's basically saying, "Hey, you know how you're a different skin tone from the majority, or a different gender, or a different economic level? Here's this device that lets you appear to be functional within the majority, all the while hiding a subconscious shame you might have while wearing big freakish technology that makes you stand out than you already would... aaaaaaand no there's not a reversal device that brings 'us' down to your level (Implied)."

See, kinda harsh.

-Opinions from a Child of a Deaf Adult attending college to be a Sign Language Interpreter/Transliterator.
 

algalon

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Congo 2 plot synopsis:
Amy back. Amy good girl. Good good Amy. Amy boyfriend bad. Amy boyfriend crush. Bad boyfriend, bad bad.
 

PrinceOfShapeir

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Wow, Insipid. I take it you're also opposed to treatments that would allow the blind to see, and people in wheelchairs able to walk. I didn't think I'd ever run into someone who -actually thought- that making the lives of someone with a disability easier was a bad thing.

It's amusing that you say it's like being of a different economic level - what is so bad about a poor person -no longer being poor-?
 

jerushajen

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Or the hearing could just take a cheap sign language course at their local JC instead of hearing impaired/Deaf people having to shell out $200 to make things easier for the hearing.

"Hearing impaired and Deaf people could use them to converse with people who don't know sign language, allowing them to lead more normal lives."

Hearing impaired/Deaf people already lead normal lives which don't require increased normalization, because they *are* normal.
 

Clearing the Eye

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Part of me wonders if all we do as a species to alleviate the burden of the disabled is a good thing. While on the surface any bridge over the gap between mainstream society and those hindered in some way is a marvelous thing. But something makes me question the affects of, for example, keeping people alive when they should otherwise be dead. I'll go off on something of a tangent here, so skip my post if you're here purely for the OP.

I watched a documentary last night about a young woman (21) utterly crippled by a lung disease that rendered her incapable of living without the constant presence of her oxygen tank. The disease is almost always fatal and totally incurable--the only hope is a transplant. She had a few ups and downs during the filming of the doco, including her beautiful marriage to an amazingly strong man whom she loved dearly. Ultimately, after about six months waiting on the transplant list, two separate let downs when a set of lungs was available but unusable, knowing any day could be her last, her heart and lungs could both no longer keep her alive and she was hooked up to a machine to keep her alive in a coma like state. The machine could only keep her going for a maximum of ten days and on the tenth day, the machine was removed and she was manually kept alive by nurses. With minutes left to live and with her entire body virtually dead, a pair of matching lungs became available and she survived.

It was a pretty amazing story (how played up for the documentary it was, I don't know) and the family seemed pretty special in a seemingly never ending hour of darkness. They had a lot of love and no one ever gave up--least of all the poor woman going through it. It was nice to see it work out for them (thanks to the amazing doctors and a donor, R.I.P.) but I was left wondering how "right" it was for us as a people to do what we did--to let live those that should by all rights have died.

I guess right and wrong may well be defined by positive and negative affect on life (what better yard stick). But there's still something unnatural about it all that won't let the issue lay in my mind. As if the greater forces of evolution pester and hiss the technology we use to overcome its totalitarian rule. Ironic than that it is through evolution that we have access to these means, lol.

Funnily enough, I attempted suicide several years ago and was saved by doctors and take antidepressants every day. Fuck you, survival of the fittest, I guess.
 

PrinceOfShapeir

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Clearing the Eye said:
Part of me wonders if all we do as a species to alleviate the burden of the disabled is a good thing. While on the surface any bridge over the gap between mainstream society and those hindered in some way is a marvelous thing. But something makes me question the affects of, for example, keeping people alive when they should otherwise be dead. I'll go off on something of a tangent here, so skip my post if you're here purely for the OP.

I watched a documentary last night about a young woman (21) utterly crippled by a lung disease that rendered her incapable of living without the constant presence of her oxygen tank. The disease is almost always fatal and totally incurable--the only hope is a transplant. She had a few ups and downs during the filming of the doco, including her beautiful marriage to an amazingly strong man whom she loved dearly. Ultimately, after about six months waiting on the transplant list, two separate let downs when a set of lungs was available but unusable, knowing any day could be her last, her heart and lungs could both no longer keep her alive and she was hooked up to a machine to keep her alive in a coma like state. The machine could only keep her going for a maximum of ten days and on the tenth day, the machine was removed and she was manually kept alive by nurses. With minutes left to live and with her entire body virtually dead, a pair of matching lungs became available and she survived.

It was a pretty amazing story (how played up for the documentary it was, I don't know) and the family seemed pretty special in a seemingly never ending hour of darkness. They had a lot of love and no one ever gave up--least of all the poor woman going through it. It was nice to see it work out for them (thanks to the amazing doctors and a donor, R.I.P.) but I was left wondering how "right" it was for us as a people to do what we did--to let live those that should by all rights have died.

I guess right and wrong may well be defined by positive and negative affect on life (what better yard stick). But there's still something unnatural about it all that won't let the issue lay in my mind. As if the greater forces of evolution pester and hiss the technology we use to overcome its totalitarian rule. Ironic than that it is through evolution that we have access to these means, lol.

Funnily enough, I attempted suicide several years ago and was saved by doctors and take antidepressants every day. Fuck you, survival of the fittest, I guess.
Oh, dear God.

Nature does not have a course. Nature is not a sentient entity. Evolution does not have a mind. There is no 'should have' died. Whether you believe in God or not, the fact that she -did not- die proves that she obviously wasn't intended to die by any cosmic plan.