Hadeel Ayoub, a Ph.D. researcher in assistive technology at the department of computing at Goldsmiths, University of London, is building a smart glove capable of translating sign language into text or voice. The glove bears the name of Re:Voice and is currently in the prototype stages of development. The wearable has been showcased at the TechXLR8 show in London earlier this week, and Hadeel Ayoub hopes the Re:Voice gloves will be ready for market release within the next nine months, or by the Christmas of 2018.
The idea behind the Re:Voice glove is fairly simple and commendable, and according to Hadeel Ayoub, that is to “give a voice to those who can’t speak”. The device achieves this by tracking sign language through a series of bend sensors on the glove’s fingers, which work in conjunction with a gyroscope in order to translate hand gestures into text or voice. The glove is powered by IBM’s AI (artificial intelligence) platform ‘Watson’ and includes a training mode, allowing wearers to add signs and gestures into the glove’s library in the cloud. It’s also interesting to note that although earlier prototypes were translating sign language in real time, the current prototype showcased at TechXLR8 in London works slightly differently by reading sign input out loud once the phrase is completed. This change was made according to early feedback from testers who suggested that this particular method would be less confusing, and thus the current prototype is equipped with a button allowing users to start and stop the translate function at any time.
Hadeel Ayoub plans to push Re:Voice into another testing phase with the help of 15-20 testers who either suffer from non-verbal autism or are hearing impaired. In addition, she plans the final product to be more practical by allowing users to remove the hardware from the glove part, and making the latter component waterproof, washable, and insulated. She is also experimenting with different ways of powering the Re:Voice with both external power and batteries. At the moment, Hadeel Ayoub is looking for additional investment as the Re:Voice is currently a one woman project, and she aims to make the product available for institutions including schools, offices, and airports within the next nine months at an affordable price point (compared to other products revolving around assistive technologies) of around £500.