Assistive technology that can help people with hearing disabilities communicate with people who don’t understand sign language is often incredibly expensive or dependent on smart devices like tablets and phones. Designer and programmer Hadeel Ayoub is tackling this problem with a glove–one made with less expensive, off-the-shelf sensors that can translate a person’s sign language gestures into text and speech in real time without relying on any external devices.
Ayoub, who is currently a Ph.D. researcher at Goldsmiths College in London, designed the glove for anyone who relies on sign language to communicate, from deaf people to children who have non-verbal autism and communicate through gestures. To use it, you simply put the glove on and start signing. The glove translates the signs in real time into sentences that appear on a small screen on the wrist, which can then be read out loud using a small speaker.
Work on the glove began in 2014, with Ayoub slowly improving it and adding more features over time, including gesture-to-speech and support for multiple sign languages. Her current prototype uses machine learning to let individuals teach the glove their own unique gestures. Ayoub recently founded a company called Revoice to bring the glove to market, and she’s hoping to sell it for several hundred dollars instead of the many thousands that other assistive technologies can cost. Working with the U.K. company Nine Products, she’s developing a consumer-ready version of the Revoice glove that could be ready for sale as soon as 2018.
During London Tech Week in June, Ayoub showed me her most recent prototype–which she designed, programmed, wired, and sewed herself.