Designers create Leap Motion accessory to interpret sign language


November 12, 2013

A display shows sign language interpreted into written words

A display shows sign language interpreted into written words

Image Gallery (3 images)

Two Portuguese designers based in Sydney have come up with a practical idea for facilitating communication between people when sign language is involved. Catarina Araujo and Sofia Santos’ project, still at the development stage and looking for financial backers, taps Leap Motion technology to create a wearable sign language translator to be worn as a necklace.

Leap Motion technology tracks hand movements. The new device translates those tracked movements into words that appear on a screen, not unlike a foreign language expert doing simultaneous interpreting. For those people who can't read sign language, the device could be a great facilitator of interaction, also making life a lot easier for those who can only communicate through hand gestures.

The duo has been selected for the second phase of the TEDx Youth competition in Sydney. The winners get a mentor for three months to help them develop an idea. Twelve teams have been selected, but only four will make it.

“The design is a concept that translates our idea of a low-cost and attractive device that a person can wear as a necklace. This way they can wear it all the time, making the interaction more natural,” they told Gizmag.

Similar devices have been developed elsewhere, such as EnableTalk by the Ukraine’s quadSquad, which consists of sensor-fitted gloves and software to convert hand signals into speech in real time. Additionally, students at the University of Houston have created MyVoice, a portable device that translates hand gestures into an audio message.

Source: Catarina Araujo/Sofia Santos

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology. All articles by Antonio Pasolini

Too bad most of the handicapped live in poverty, so few deaf will be able to afford this gizmo.

Nelson Chick

This is a great idea! Regarding the poverty aspect above, if there's a government subsidy for this kind of thing it could at least help some lower income earners get this kind of device.

Just looking at the pic above showing someone ordering a coffee, how about a reversal of this idea for shops where there's a kinect type device that sits on a counter facing a customer. The kinect could translate the hand gestures to text on a small LCD screen, or maybe even plugged into the cash register, allowing the person serving to be able to understand the signals?

Paul Utry
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