Innovative, Low-Cost Smart Wearable Decodes American Sign Language Gestures

Published Date : Jul 18, 2017

Researchers at University of California, San Diego, have innovated a smart wearable device called ‘The Language of Glove’ that can wirelessly decode the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet into texts for gesture recognition. The smart glove, designed for less than US$100, controls a virtual hand to simulate the gestures of a natural sign language, predominantly used by the deaf communities in the U.S.

The details of the innovation was published on July 12, 2017 in the reputed multidisciplinary journal PLOS ONE.

Inexpensive Smart Glove Uses Stretchable and Printable Electronics

According to Darren Lipomi, a professor of nanoengineering, and one of the senior authors of the study, ‘The Language of Glove’ is an inexpensive smart wearable made using commercially available off-the-shelf electronics components and a simple fabrication method. The work can prove as a useful guide for the development of other similar wearable technologies in the coming years.

The smart device contained nine stretchable sensors that are worn to the back at the knuckles by the user. These sensors have a coating of a carbon paint which respond to stretching or bending of the knuckles by altering their electrical resistance. Based on the positions of all the nine knuckles, the sensors can code all the 26 letters of the ASL alphabet into a different nine-digit code. The circuit board on the smart device converts this nine-digit key into a unique letter, which can then be transmitted through the Bluetooth to a smartphone or to a computer screen.

Smart Glove to Prove Promising for Virtual Reality Applications

The glove can also control a virtual hand and make it sign letters in the ASL alphabet. The team of engineers are further working on the smart wearable technology to make it useful in controlling a robotic hand that is endowed with a sense of touch. This will enable people to use their hands in virtual reality, which can have a variety of innovative applications in the games and entertainment industry.