Next on the Horizon: A Sign Language Translator
Breakthrough software application converts sign language into text.
We recently reported on the development of space-age machine translation technology that allows you to talk and translate automatically. Then there was another innovative application that translates text but in the sound of your own voice. So what's next you may ask, in the evolving world of translation? Well, how about software that translates sign language into words automatically?
Well, researchers at Aberdeen University in Scotland have been busy working on technology that will do just that. We've learned that they have developed a mobile application that will actually translate sign language into text. And it's believed the new technology could have a profound impact on the way people with hearing and speech impairments will be able to communicate in the future.
The software is being designed for use with cameras on portable devices such as notebooks and smartphones, and it's believed the appropriately named "portable sign language translator" (PSLT) will help the hearing impaired communicate with non-sign-conversant counterparts.
The technology will be capable of translating various sign languages in use including Makton and British Sign Language and may also be customized to recognize individual gestures and translate those to personalized phrases.
"One of the most innovative and exciting aspects of the technology is that it allows sign language users to actually develop their own signs for concepts and terms they need to have in their vocabulary," said Dr. Ernesto Compatangelo, University of Aberdeen lecturer and one of the technology's developers.
''The user signs into a standard camera integrated into a laptop, netbook, smart phone or other portable device such as a tablet. Their signs are immediately translated into text, which can be read by the person they are conversing with ...The intent is to develop an application—an 'app' in smart phone terms—that is easily accessible and could be used on different devices, including smart phones, laptops, and PCs.'' Compatangelo added.
Hopes are high that the new technology, which should be available next year, will have a significant impact on the lives of the hearing impaired, allowing them to finally bridge the communication gap between themselves and the wider community.
Photo: sign language courtesy: www.pslt.org