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May 2, 2016
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Two undergraduates from the University of Washington (UW) in the United States have just invented a glove that could change the way people communicate with the deaf.

Developed by Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor, the “SignAloud” glove recognizes hand gestures that corresponds to words and phrases in the American Sign Language (ASL). The gloves have sensors in them that records hand position and movement. This turns into data that is sent wirelessly to a computer, which then analyzes the data. If it matches a gesture, then the associated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker.

“Our purpose for developing these gloves was to provide an easy-to-use bridge between native speakers of American Sign Language and the rest of the world,” Azodi said in an interview with the UW Today. “The idea initially came out of our shared interest in invention and problem solving. But coupling it with our belief that communication is a fundamental human right, we set out to make it more accessible to a larger audience.”

For them, many of today’s sign language translation devices are not practical for everyday use. With this in mind, they created the gloves as, “lightweight, compact, but ergonomic enough to use as an everyday accessory, similar to hearing aids or contact lenses.”

Because of the invention, the duo won $10,000 dollars from the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize—a nationwide search for the most inventive students.

With further tweaking, hopefully the gloves can be used to translate into other languages in order to become more accessible to everyone.

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