By JR Raphael
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
Watch out, Power Glove: There’s a new sensor-based item on the market, and this one has the potential to change lives.
A team of computer engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a glove that can convert hand movements into spoken words. The idea is to give deaf people an easy way to use American Sign Language to communicate over the phone. Make a fist, the phone says “good morning.” Hold out two fingers and a thumb, it says “thank you for your time.”
The guys are getting a lot of attention for this little class project. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did an entire feature about them, and their web site detailing their work is seeing plenty of visitors these days.
It’s no surprise, either. They’ve already figured out a way to automatically send the gestures directly into a user’s cell phone, making communication almost instant. The phone uses software to translate the electronic message first into text, then into spoken voice. The team’s planning to put the glove into testing with actual hearing-impaired users in the next few months.
This class seems to have a record of success. The Post-Gazette says the product created by one of last year’s teams is now on the market. It’s a bar code reader that blind people can use to scan an item in any store, then hear details about what it is and how much it costs.
Not bad for a bunch of college kids. I think my biggest accomplishment back then was freezing a textbook into a solid block of ice and dropping it off a 15 story building. Though, come to think of it, that was pretty cool. Advantage JR.