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Photo: Red Dot Design
Techies, rejoice! A device that can translate sign language into spoken words is now a reality. Communication between the deaf and non-signers is typically limited to an exchange of notes, texts, or general confusion, but the Sign Language Ring aims to change that by converting users’ signs into verbal communication. Signers wear a bracelet and six rings that detect hand movements, which are transmitted back to the bracelet. The bracelet then “speaks” the signer’s words out loud and displays the text on the bracelet’s band.
The technology isn’t just a one-way street — a person can respond in spoken word and the bracelet will translate to text, allowing for clear, flowing conversation. Some skeptics of the design question the device’s ability to effectively capture the nuances of sign language, including facial expressions and gestures that convey a range of emotions. However, the technology is customizable to each user and can adapt to commonly used words or slang. The technology currently exists as a prototype only, but the six designers from Asia University recently acquired the title and publicity thanks to a win at the 2013 RedDot Design Concept Awards, which should drive the technology’s future development and production. If all goes as planned, signers could be able to communicate quickly and directly with their non-signing compatriots for the first time ever.
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