A young Kenyan innovator has created a set of gloves that will ultimately interpret sign language into audible speech.
25-year-old Roy Allela created the Sign-IO gloves, which are meant to enable communication between deaf persons and those who may not understand sign language.
The gloves feature sensors that are able to interpret finger movements and turn them into audible speech. They are paired via Bluetooth to a mobile phone application that Allela also developed, which then vocalises the letters.
Allela says he drew his inspiration from a desire to connect better with his deaf niece.
“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them with her phone or mine, then starts signing. I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” Allela shared in an interview with The Guardian.
The young engineer hopes his creation will be introduced into schools in his country, and even become an acceptable communication aid all over the world.
He says the gloves will make his niece’s life better and allow her similar opportunities as other children.
“I was trying to envision how my niece’s life would be if she had the same opportunities as everyone else in education, employment, all aspects of life,” Allela he said.
Even though the gloves are still in the prototype phase of development and not available to the public, they have already stirred quite a buzz and have even won some awards. Sign-IO was the 2018 grand winner of the “Hardware Trailblazer Award” at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) global finals in New York and also took home a second runner-up acknowledgement at the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders in Innovation Fellowship in London.
Users of the glove will be able to set the language, gender and pitch of the vocalisation through the app.
Allela says his creation has a 93 percent accuracy, hence can be used efficiently without distorting the intended information.
Also, the gloves will be customizable. Users can opt for comic-themed gloves, fairy tale-themed ones or more.