Learning sign language can be a difficult and long process. People with hearing impairments have little options when it comes to communicating with others, and quite often people without any hearing problems need to learn sign language in order to “talk” with friends or relatives. Researchers at UCLA have developed a high-tech glove that can translate sign language into text or speech on a smartphone, Engadget reports.The system works in real-time and can differentiate 660 American Sign Language signs with nearly 99 percent accuracy. The glove uses stretchable sensors on each finger which connect to a circuit board. There’s Bluetooth connectivity that transmits the signals from the glove to a smartphone. A specially designed app then interprets these signals into words with an approximate speed of around 60 words per minute.
The prototype is less bulky than previous iterations of the same idea and uses parts that cost less than $50. It’s far from ready, though. To be practical, the system must learn more signs and increase the speed of translation. Nevertheless, the team behind the glove hopes that one day their system could be used to teach more people sign language and help bridge the gap between those with hearing impairments and non-sign language users.