Creepy-Exciting Logistics

By Erika Goering,

  Filed under: Degree Project, Find&Share, KCAI, Learning
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I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve pretty much narrowed down what my app will be; a two-way ASL and spoken English translator, where both of these inputs (either ASL captured with a camera, or speech captured with a microphone) output to text on a mobile device (phone or tablet). Most of the things that I’ve researched as comparables have been limited: one-way, and not very useful (like converting text to ASL… Why not just type a message to the deaf/HoH person? They can read. You don’t have to try to fake your way through a language you don’t know… Ugh.).

Anyway, because I’m the type of person who likes to know if what I’m designing for is even feasible (which makes it all the more exciting for me), I searched around for some similar projects. Well, lo and behold, I found something creepy-exciting! (I actually shrieked when I saw this!)

Computer scientists in Scotland are developing technology that can translate sign language into text through a simple webcam. The technology, which has the potential to run on variety of camera-enabled digital devices, could be a big help to speech-impaired users trying to communicate, especially with members of the non-signing world.


PSLT [Portable Sign Language Translator] aims to help young learners with speech difficulties, to empower mobility- and speech-challenged users to issue commands to their appliances and devices, and to allow people with speech difficulties to customize their language settings to a variety of regional variations and personal preferences.

The creepiest (most serendipitous/coincidental) part is this (and I swear to the design gods that I had never seen this before today):

“The aim of the technology is to empower sign language users by enabling them to overcome the communication challenges they can experience, through portable technology.”

Isn’t that, like, exactly my thesis statement? I guess that means that something like this is ready to be designed!!!


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