hearing people can't understand sign language. A team of students from

the Ukraine built a set of electronic gloves to help bridge that gap. A

set of sensors in these gloves, including an accelerometer, compass,

gyroscope and flex sensors in the fingers, translate movement into

signals that a computer converts into speech.

The person wearing the gloves draws a shape in the air. That information is transmitted them via Bluetooth to a

smartphone, which matches the shape up against a set stored in memory. A match produces a sound. For example, waving one's hands in

one pattern produces "nice to meet you" and another pattern produces

"system really works."

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gloves were designed by Pasternikov Anton, Osika Maksim, Yasakov

Valeriy and Stepanov Anton, students at the Donetsk branch of the “Step”

Computer Academy. The project, called EnableTalk, was a winner of the software design category at Microsoft's Imagine Cup contest, where students from around the world showcase technology projects.


are some limitations. One is that the gestures stored in the computer

are not yet sign language. Sign language is as complex as any other

language, and American Sign Language differs from its French or German

counterpart. So far, the system can only read a

dozen or so movements.

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challenge will be durability and usefulness. Most people, deaf or not,

don't walk around wearing gloves all the time, and the problem is

multiplied when one considers jobs that require using hands (a bus

driver or typist, for instance).

However, the technology is still

new. The next steps will be streamlining it and finding a way to enable

simultaneous translation, along with expanding the system's gestural

"vocabulary." Maksim told the BBC that the group is trying to build a

truly practical system, though he isn't sure when it would be ready.


Image: EnableTalk