Dec 22, 2011
The modern wave of smartphones has been fantastic for disabled users, as the additional power has allowed for far greater accessibility options. Text to speech is widespread on both iOS and Android. Apps like Proloquo2Go can replace very expensive dedicated hardware for communication to and from people with disabilities. Now, some developers at Google’s Developer Day in Tel Aviv have created a prototype of a device for turning sign language into text on Android.
What this Texting Glove does is that it uses a variety of sensors including accelerometers and gyroscopes to recognize hand movements, that is then connected to the phone’s USB port. After calibrating for specific hands, it can then turn signing into text that is output on the Android device. In the video shown below, a user responds to a text message by loading up the app that interfaces with the Texting Glove to make their response. This demo video of the Texting Glove shows off how it works.
Such a piece of hardware and apps for using this have some fantastic potential for making sign language more accessible. In particular, this could have some great applications for those learning how to sign, as this could offer them the opportunity to practice and experiment with their signs and with communicating with them outside of a specific learning environment. As well, particularly on Android, if this technology was further developed, it could allow users who are most comfortable with signing to communicate using their preferred method throughout the OS; hypothetically, this accessory could be used for typing throughout the OS.
This is obviously just in a prototype phase, a sample made by several engineers and developers for testing purposes. However, this proof of concept has such potential for allowing those with disabilities to feel more comfortable with their phones, and how they communicate through them. Any time that technology can be used to help people overcome challenges to communicate more effectively, and to help remove those bridges that divide us, is something that should be pursued. I hope this technology is pursued further either by these developers or by others.