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Bioengineers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have designed a device similar to a glove that can translate sign language in real time. For the moment, the experiment has been carried out for the language of signs that is used in the united States and its corresponding English translation, but the researchers, who are already managing the patent, they do not preclude using the system with other languages. The results have just been published in the journal “Nature ” Electronics”.

“we Hope this opens an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with those who do not dominate without the need of someone the more they translate,” he explains in a press release Jun Chen , assistant professor of bioengineering in the College of Engineering, Samueli UCLA and principal investigator of the study. “In addition, we hope that you can help more people to learn the language of signs”.


In particular, the system is composed of a pair of gloves with sensors, very thin and elastic stretch for all the fingers. These receptors are constructed of strands of conductors of electricity, and collect the movements of the hands and the placements of the fingers while represent letters, numbers, words, and individual sentences.

After that, the device converts the movements into electrical signals, which are sent to a circuit board the size of a dime that is located in the back of the hand, just above the wrist. The plate transmits those signals wirelessly to a smartphone, which translates them into spoken words at a rate of approximately one word per second.

digital Representation of device – Jun Chen Lab / UCLA

In tests, the team worked with four deaf people who use sign language american. Users repeated every gesture of the hand 15 times. An algorithm of machine learning custom converted these gestures into letters, numbers, and words that they represented. The system recognized 660 signs, including each letter of the alphabet and the numbers 0 to 9.

Furthermore, the researchers added sensors stickers on the faces of the users of sign language who participated and the experiment, in particular with electrodes located in between the eyebrows and to the side of the mouth in order to also capture the facial expressions.

earlier Devices

it is Not the first portable system for simultaneous translation of sign language, but it is the most lightweight and practical, ensures its creators. The device developed by the team of UCLA is built based on polymers with elasticated stockings, which, in addition, they are quite economic, “although they are very durable,” emphasized the researchers. The electronic sensors that “read” the movements of the hands are also very flexible and low-cost.