Researchers Develop Gloves That Translate Sign Language

Posted on April 29, 2016

Two undergraduates from the University of Washington have developed gloves that translate sign language into text or speech. The SignAloud gloves developed by UW sophomores Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor recently won the $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize.

The gloves recognize different hand gestures that correspond with sign language words and phrases. The gloves contain sensors that record hand position and movement. This data is transmitted wirelessly via Bluetooth to a central computer. The gesture data is processed using sequential statistical regression to find a match. If there is a match the associated word or phrase is spoken through the speaker.

Pryor says in a statement, "Many of the sign language translation devices already out there are not practical for everyday use. Some use video input, while others have sensors that cover the user's entire arm or body. Our gloves are lightweight, compact and worn on the hands, but ergonomic enough to use as an everyday accessory, similar to hearing aids or contact lenses."

Azodi says, "Our purpose for developing these gloves was to provide an easy-to-use bridge between native speakers of American Sign Language and the rest of the world. The idea initially came out of our shared interest in invention and problem solving. But coupling it with our belief that communication is a fundamental human right, we set out to make it more accessible to a larger audience."

The researchers developed the gloves at the UW CoMotion MakerSpace. They are pictured working on the gloves in the above photograph. Here is a short video demonstration of the SignAloud gloves. Take a look:

You can find out more about this year's Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners here on

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