Hadeel Ayoub, digital designer and media artist studying at Goldsmiths, University of London has developed a ‘smart glove’ that converts sign language into text and speech dedicated to bridge the communication gap between people with hearing disabilities and others by converting sign language into text and speech.
The ‘Smart Glove’ can prove to be a boon for students who are deprived of mainstream education sector. Many students, globally face the challenge in expressing themselves due to the disability in them. The innovation is costly as of now, but with bulk production the cost can be reduced to a larger scale.
Hadeel explained that her motto is always ‘to design for a cause’ and she spends her time to develop products that help a wider community. On a telephonic interview to an online publication, she said, “I have an autistic niece who is four and who doesn’t speak. When I saw her communicating with sign language, I wondered what would happen if she tried to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language.” There she got the idea to innovate something that could solve this wide spread problem.
The ‘Smart Glove’ named as SignLanguageGlove is basically a wireless device that translates sign language gestures into text or speech. The glove uses a microcontroller board, a four digit graphic numerical display and five flex sensors on the fingers to detect the movements of the fingers. An accelerometer is also attached to the glove to track how the user orientates their hand as they sign. A computer programme then translates the motions into text that are displayed on a screen. A text-to-speech chip has also been incorporated to the glove to provide vocal support. All these modifications have been achieved through three prototyping stages. Hadeel is also planning to add multilingual features into the glove.
She said, “I didn’t want all the wires to intimidate users, making them feel the glove will be complicated to use or really fragile. People tend to lean to the cautious side when approached with new high-tech products which contradicts the main purpose of this glove, which is to help make lives easier.”
Hadeel is keen to further modify the glove by integrating translation feature for real-time translation in multiple languages. She is also hopeful of developing a small glove for children.
Hadeel said, “For me it’s all about eliminating disability, language, and physical barriers. My next prototype will have wifi so that it will be able to send texts and emails as well to any smart device within a reasonable range.”
Hadeel added, “I had one mission when I started this project and it was to facilitate communication between all kinds of disabilities, eliminating barriers between people who have a visual, hearing or speech impairment. The prototypes each have a new additional feature, an LED light, and a speaker for example, that took me one step closer to my goal. Once I’ve incorporated WiFi and translation features into it the glove will be useful for all – no exclusions as to who the user can reach, wherever, whoever, from any country at any time.”