Smart gloves that convert sign language into speech have been invented by 25-year-old Kenyan, Roy All
The smart gloves enable easy communication with speech-impaired people. The sign language transmits this data to an Android application where it is vocalised.
He was joined by Brian Gitta from Uganda who developed ‘Matibabu’, a non–invasive device used to test for malaria, and Charles Antipem from Ghana who created ‘Science Set’, an affordable, portable, practical and highly scalable science lab that can fit in the bag and on the desk.
The trio were among 10 socially-minded hardware entrepreneurs selected among 150 applicants as finalists of the event held at the Golden Tulip West-lands Nairobi Hotel.
“Roy Allela, a technology evangelist, says the need to communicate with his six-year-old niece, who was born deaf, inspired him to build the technology,” AE gathered from a source.
The 25-year-old was among 16 young Africans who have been shortlisted by The Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for inventors from six countries to receive funding, training and mentoring for projects intended to revolutionise sectors from agriculture and science to women’s health.
Allela said that his niece encountered difficulties while communicating with members of her family, since none of them was conversant with sign language, according to Nairobi news.
More than 30 million people around the globe have speech impairments and must rely on sign language.
Sign-IO’s sign language to speech translation glove recognises various signs used by sign language users. And once the glove recognisesthe sign, it will convert it to audio speech.
The smart gloves – dubbed Sign-IO – have flex sensors that are placed on each finger and have the capacity to quantify the bend of a finger and process the letter being signed to speech.
You can also use Bluetooth to the gloves, which are connected to a mobile application Allela also developed, which converts the sign into audio.
“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing and I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” Allela said.
The speed at which the signs are vocalised, he added, is one of the most important aspects of the smart gloves.
His words: “People speak at different speeds and it’s the same with people who sign – some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use.”
Users of the app are able to set the language, gender and pitch of the audio voice, with accuracy averaging 93 per cent.
The inventor speaks on the nature of the device: “It fights the stigma associated with being deaf and having a speech impediment. If the gloves look cool, every kid will want to know why you have them on.”
Allela’s innovation recently won the Hardware Trailblazer award from the prestigious American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) during its 2017 ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) competition.
He plans to use the prize money from the award to make more accurate vocal predictions.
The three inventors shared the $500,000