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Smart sensors in gloves ‘translate’ sign language to sounds

An engineer from Kenya has used smart textiles and sensors to create a glove that ‘translates’ sign language to words via an app.

Roy Allela’s niece was born deaf, and he wanted to help the family communicate better. 

The Sign-IO gloves have five flex sensors mounted on each finger to quantify how much a finger is bent. They convert the change in bend to electrical resistance – the more the bend, the more the resistance. They then send messages to a program via Bluetooth and a text-to-speech engine vocalises the predicted gestures.

“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing and I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” said Mr Allela. “Like all sign language users, she’s very good at lip reading, so she doesn’t need me to sign back.”