A new Microsoft Research project has achieved a major milestone: Real-time machine translation of sign language using Kinect. Researchers in China created the prototype Kinect Sign Language Translator, which understands Chinese sign language and translates it into Chinese in real time using Kinect’s sensor set–and vice versa. Professor Xilin Chen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who worked on the project, said in a release that “We knew that information technology, especially computer technology, has grown up very fast. So from my point of view, I thought this is the right time to develop some technology to help [the deaf community]. That’s the motivation.”
The Chinese team, working with Microsoft Research Asia, combined Kinect’s sensors with machine translation technology for the multi-year project. According to Microsoft Research, one long-term goal for the project is to ease communication for sign language speakers in commercial and employment settings.