An electric glove which can convert sign language into text messages has been unveiled by scientists.
The $100 (£77) device will will allow deaf people to instantly send messages to those who don't understand sign language, according to its inventors. Researchers fitted a standard sports glove with nine flexible strain sensors which react when a user bends their fingers to create the new device.
An overview of the 'gesture-decoding' glove. Sensors placed near to the knuckles (pictured left) create a electrical signal which can be sent via Bluetooth to a smartphone. The device consists of a sports glove which has been fitted with nine stretchable sensors positioned over the knuckles.
When a user bends their fingers or thumb to sign a letter, the sensors stretch, which causes an electrical signal to be produced. These signals are then processed by software to figure out the configuration of the hand. And motion sensors are also fitted the back of the glove, to record whether the hand is moving or still. This allows the glove to distinguish between particular letters such as 'i' and 'j'.
Both letters involve bending just the little finger, but for 'i' the hand is still while for 'j' the hand is rotated 180 degrees.
The information from the glove is then sent via Bluetooth to an app on a smartphone or computer, which will then display a translated version of the message. The device, which was developed at the University of California, San Diego, can convert the 26 letters of American Sign Language (ASL) into text that can be viewed on a smartphone or computer.
Sign language is the only form of communication for many deaf people, statistics have shown. This is because learning written languages can be difficult without being able to understand the sounds which correspond with particular words.