Two sophomore students at the University of Washington have been granted $10,000 as part of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. The two boys named Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor, studying business administration and aeronautics and astronautics engineering, respectively, won the prize with ‘SignAloud’, the gloves that will monitor hand movements in sign language and translate it into verbal communication.
In an interview, Pryor emphasises the importance of the everyday usefulness of the gloves compared to other modern day technologies for the hearing impaired, some of which use videos and others which use whole arm or whole body sensors. He notes the convenience of the gloves in their lightweight, compact design and ability to be worn comfortably throughout the day.
The duos first audience is the deaf and hearing impaired, but they believe the technology they’re creating could be used in various other fields in future, such as gesture monitoring, enhanced Virtual Reality experiences and even medical technology to monitor stroke patients during rehabilitation. The WashingtonEDU site describes the technical side:
“Each glove contains sensors that record hand position and movement and send data wirelessly via Bluetooth to a central computer. The computer looks at the gesture data through various sequential statistical regressions, similar to a neural network. If the data match a gesture, then the associated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker.”
You can watch them demonstrate their gloves here: