Aside from writing it down or typing it on a screen, Sign Language is recognized as the language deaf or hearing-impaired individuals communicate their message to other people. They are often left out in communicating with people who do not understand sign language and have trouble relaying their message at times, but now that is no longer an issue. Roy Allela, an engineer from Kenya, has figured out a way of creating a new method of bridging the gap between those who can and cannot hear.
Allela has reportedly invented a futuristic glove called “Sign-IO gloves”, which has the capability of translating hand gestures and other sign language movements into words that we will be able to hear through Sign Language gestures and movements made using the glove.
In an interview with The Guardian, the engineer’s motivation behind inventing this technology was inspired by personal circumstances and experience. Apparently, his niece is deaf and has the common trouble of talking with other members of their family.
“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them with her phone or mine, then starts signing. I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” he shares.
The way the gloves functions is through the sensors present on each finger of the glove. The sensors will be able to detect how each finger is positioned which includes how much each finger will bend into a certain position. To be able to transform the actions into speech people can hear, the gloves will connect via Bluetooth to an Android phone where it will have a function that provides translated speech from the hand gestures of an individual communicating through sign language.
By 2024, Global Newswire predicts that the will help the communication gap and could possibly be worth $30 billion or more. Now, it is currently still a prototype model that is unavailable to the general market. However, the invention has already won awards. Sign-IO was the grand winner of the Hardware Trailblazer award at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) global finals in New York. It also placed 2nd runner-up at the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders in Innovation Fellowship in London.
As for Allela’s main vision for it, he plans to place the gloves in schools that cater to children with special-needs throughout Kenya so the gloves he invented could greatly have a positive impact on transforming the lives of 34 million children who are deaf in the way they communicate with other people. Also, he hopes the invention will have the chance to broaden its reach to the whole country or wider so that he can help the individuals that need it.
Good news to the communication gap between those who can and cannot hear!