These gloves turn sign language into audible speech

72% of families don't sign with their deaf children, experts say

ASL interpreter. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
ASL interpreter. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Driven by love for his niece and knowledge of the struggles people who are deaf have when trying to communicate, Roy Allela came up with gloves that can turn sign language into audible speech.

This could be life-changing for some people.

There are more than 1 million deaf people who use American Sign Language as their primary source of communication, and 70 million deaf people worldwide use some type of sign language, according to Communication Service for the Deaf. If that number doesn’t sound astonishing, this will: Seventy-two percent of families don’t sign with their deaf children.

If you are deaf, sign language is sometimes your only form of communication and your communication with the world is limited.

Allela, the 25-year-old Kenyan man who works for Intel and tutors data science at Oxford University, invented Sign-IO, smart gloves that convert sign language movements into audible speech.

“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,” Allela told Guardian. “Like all sign language users, she’s very good at lip reading, so she doesn’t need me to sign back.”

The gloves have flex sensors stitched into each finger, and the sensors are paired to a phone app via Bluetooth. Allela also developed the app. The sensors process the bend of the fingers and what is being signed.

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