We rely on our ability to hear on a daily basis – this is one of the most crucial components that contribute to our socialization skills. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to be able to listen to music, detect danger when a speeding car is coming from behind, or effectively communicate by listening and thoroughly understanding what someone is saying.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, up to three children born per 1000 experiences hearing loss that is detectable through a hearing examination. In some cases, only one ear is affected, but there are cases where both ears of the newborn are affected. When it comes to the adult population, over 37.5 million adults in the United States alone have existing hearing problems.
A 25-year-old engineer in Kenya has developed a glove that will soon enable deaf people to communicate with others more effectively, by combining the technology implemented into the glove with text-to-speech functionality on a smartphone device.
After experiencing a barrier in communication due to his failure to understand sign language while conversing with his niece, Roy Allela decided to take it upon himself to create a new innovation that could solve this barrier. This is what led the Kenyan engineer to develop what he calls the Sign-IO gloves.
This pair of gloves uses special sensors that are placed on each finger to detect movements from the user. The movements detected would allow the technology built into the glove to recognize sign language that is often utilized by deaf people to communicate with others.
The gloves feature built-in Bluetooth technology, allowing them to pair up with a smartphone device. Through the use of a specially developed mobile application, the gloves then feed the hand gestures to the smartphone. The app allows the smartphone to read the gestures that are detected by the sensors and convert them to text – in turn, and the text is then narrated with the use of text-to-speech functionality, which comes standard in the majority of modern smartphones on the market.
The idea behind the gloves is to help deaf people communicate with anyone – even if the other person does not understand sign language. Through the use of the text-to-speech function, the deaf person is able to “speak” to the other individual by simply making the appropriate hand gestures.
We have seen many new medical innovations that utilize sensory technology in order to make the lives of people easier. The Sign-IO gloves, developed by an engineer from Kenya, is one that will revolutionize the way that deaf people are communicating, removing the barrier that may exist when others do not understand sign language.