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Sign Language Out Loud 45

Posted by timothy
from the gestures dept.
hcetSJ writes "CNN.com has an article about a glove that reads sign language and can translate to spoken English. Although it's only one-handed now, and can only handle about 200 words, the inventor has further plans for a second hand and wider vocabulary. I wonder if this could be linked with the Rosetta Stone idea, to quickly expand the vocabulary. Also mentioned in the article is the possibility of military use...gaming control can't be far off." grvsmth points to a more detailed article on GWU's website.
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Sign Language Out Loud

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  • heh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tirel (692085) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @09:57AM (#6625163)
    I wonder what it says when you're masturbating?
    • Re:heh (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Oh yeah, don't stop"

      -- Amanda Lefthanda
  • by WildFire42 (262051) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:00AM (#6625182) Homepage
    /me flips you the bird.
    /me's glove attempts to translate it as "Eagle".
    /me's glove BSOD's.

    Dammit...
  • by jfruhlinger (470035) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:18AM (#6625315) Homepage
    ASL (and other sign languages) aren't just word-for-word translations of Englis (and other spoken languages); they are true languages with their own unique grammar. Any attempt at an on-the-fly translation would, it seems to me, result in a muddle that would make the Babelfish sound like Shakespeare.

    jf
    • by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:18AM (#6625818) Homepage Journal
      True enough, especially given that interpreting ASL depends on many factors other than hand position (speed, intensity, facial gestures, etc.) Much of that, however, can be communicated effectively even to non-ASL speakers, and serves to enhance a Babelfish-esque translation.

      Just as Babelfish gives me at least a rough idea of what an article in another language says, it would be a substantial boon to an ASL speaker to be able to get at least the gist across to somebody who doesn't speak ASL. And unlike Babelfish, which I only have to use occasionally, most ASL users must communicate with non-deaf speakers essentially every single day.
    • by hcetSJ (672210) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:31AM (#6625917)
      That's where the Rosetta Stone method could be helpful. A word-for-word translation might be stilted, but by comparing entire sentences, a system might learn that one idiom in one language translates (loosely, at least) to another idiom or phrase in the other.
      • Not a chance...For those that use ASL it is not uncommon for new words concepts and images to be created to express an idea. Almost all of the grammer is facial expression and without it the message is completely different. ASL is not mearly about words like english but more like mental pictures capable of expressing thoughts, emotions, and indepth ideas. It truely is its own lanugage. If you had two gloves, and a way to monitor eyes and face movements it might work. Other wise its simply an English Trasnla
    • There are different types of Sign Language, even within the United States. For example: the sign language which you see interpreters using is not necessarily the same 'dialect' Deaf people use when talking to eachother. The type which interpreters use is much easier to interpret into English than the ASL that Deaf people use.

      As far as Grammar goes, the grammatical structure of Sign Language is much simpler than that of English and other languages. The biggest grammatical difference would be word orde
    • The signer may, however, be able to adapt to the limitations of the device, just as I simplify my English when speaking to someone who does not understand the language well.
    • I wonder if it would make more sense for them to concentrate on Signed English instead of ASL. It's pushed strongly in schools these days anyway, and it follows the precise grammar and structure of spoken English, vs. ASL, which has its own grammar and relies heavily on facial expressions and spatial relations.

      Many educators feel that ASL creates many problems for young children, who grow up signing in ASL grammar, and then go to school where they effectively have to re-learn their language in order to be
  • Wrong Product (Score:2, Informative)

    by patch-rustem (641321)
    "I want to produce something that deaf people can use in everyday life," he said.

    Don't get me wrong, mod me down if you want, I'm sure he's tried his best, but isn't this the wrong invention. My experience working with people with impaired hearing is that their speech is fine. It's hearing that they have a problem with.

    A glove that translated other peoples speech into sign language would be much more useful.
  • This will make my hand talk to me?

    Hell, you might as well get married.
  • Ah, the memories... I did a similar project in college, building a sensor glove which translated tonic sol-fa (music sign language) into MIDI using a Basic Stamp embedded processor. Worked rather well, actually.

    The other half of my project was to do the same thing using video recognition, which is also mentioned in the linked article. I used the built-in camera of an SGI, and a nice fuzzy logic matching algorithm.
  • High-tech solution to a low-tech problem. /pen and paper (you'll need it anyway unless they read lips)
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:57AM (#6625647) Homepage Journal
    It seems like the VR glove concept appears over and over again, but never seems to "click". I remember the Nintendo Power Glove [angelfire.com] from the late '80s - early '90s -- for the original NES. If it had been such a hit with the gaming community, why wasn't there a N64 and GameCube version?

    And outside gaming, the idea comes and just as quickly goes. Here's an article about tele-medicine using VR gloves [hoise.com], where someone at location A pushes on your abdomen and a doctor at location B "feels" whether your spleen is out of joint. The date on the article... July, 2000. Going nowhere.

    And here's a telling statement from the referenced article:
    Although there is more work to be done with the AcceleGlove, Hernandez-Rebollar is not sure if he will have the necessary financial support to continue his research after his dissertation.
    Something is making it darned difficult to bring VR Glove technology to fruition, despite almost two decades of poking around with it.

    What's the "killer app" that will have us all putting on our V-Gloves?
    • Actually those old, originally inexpensive Power Gloves now fetch fairly high prices on the used market because they are in such high demand for projects like these, and there is no current off-the-shelf product at the same price point. I ended up having to build my own out of a bicycling glove, some accelerometers, and switches. You're right that they never caught on in the mass market, but they're great for academics and hobbyists.
  • Facial Expressions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarkRecluse (231992) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:28AM (#6625890)
    ASL is as much about facial expressions and body language as it is signing...to leave them out is to confuse the meaning of the sign, often completely. Everything is very emotionally charged.

    I would suggest that more people learn sign, because if nothing else it will help them to become more expressive individuals.
    • Besides which, it's a beautiful form of communication. One of these days...

      On development I find intriguing: claims that babies can learn to sign before they can learn to talk [babysigns.com]. Which is cool if it help loving parents bond with and begin educating their kinds more quickly. Not so cool if it becomes yet another for overcompetitive parents to put their kids on the achievement treadmill too early.

  • ...or was it Next Step? Either way, I saw this idea on the Discovery chanel probably 8 years ago. At that point they said the computer hardware wasn't fast enough yet.

    This is the first time I can remember one of the inventions on those shows actually coming to light. Cool. Those hours in front of the TV weren't wasted afterall.

    --Ben
  • Old news... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by failrate (583914)
    I remember seeing this glove on TV when I was a kid. Back then, all it could do was spell in sign language, so this is a definite step up. As far as *gaming* goes, don't tell me that y'all have forgotten the Nintendo Powerglove!
  • minority report (Score:2, Interesting)

    (I can't find a reference to this. not even on a level 2, instead of the usual level 4 comment level.)

    Perhaps someone might make a new computer interface with it. Something like seen in the movie minority report, staring Tom Cruise.
    Perhaps it already exist, i don't know.
    But I would sure try it. I find it annoying that I always have to switch towards a mouse for certain tasks.
    Hopefully it reduces RSI.
    But as with everything, it depends on the design.

    It can replace keyboard and mouse.
    It can be
  • Did anyone else immediately think of the scene from Mr. Hollands Opus where the deaf/mute kid signs "Asshole" to his (asshole-of-a-) Dad?

    --
    • He wasn't really deaf, just damn near deaf, nor was he mute as he spoke as any person with similar hearing problems would. Good movie it was. Now, having seen the glove on TechTV, I could only imagine strapping TWO of those things on. I'd feel like a cyborg. Add some facial sensors to incorporate expressions into the system.... almost sounds like borg garments... o.O

      Now where did that come from... -_- I need some sleep. Yes.
  • by Garridan (597129) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @02:48PM (#6627521)
    I studied ASL for 2 years... there's a helluva lot more to the language than hands... and much of the language would be impossible to translate with a computer.

    Facial expression is nearly as important as the hands. "should" and "need" are the same sign, with a slight difference in the shape of the mouth. Its like trying to understand somebody who enunciates poorly, speaks in monotone, and doesn't pause between words or sentences...

    A lot of the language relies on physical description... there's no way a computer could interpret a lot of it.

    At best, this will be able to translate "SEE", or Signed Exact English. Not ASL. There's a HUGE difference. ASL is as different from English as sculpture is different from music.
  • Really old news (Score:2, Interesting)

    My parents used to tape a program on public television called Discover: The World of Science, presumably related to the magazine. Peter Graves hosted it, and my folks would stick one of the tapes in the VCR to keep me amused when I was being difficult.

    The format was a series of 15-20 minute pieces on various neat pieces of science, and I distinctly remeber a segement about a "talking glove." It was a mechanical hand on a small stand with a keyboard and Hawking-esque voice synthesizer, and a glove wired wi
  • ASL Translator (Score:2, Informative)

    by penguin_bear (644991)
    American Sign Language also includes hundreds of gestures that express single words and simple sentences, but most require two hands.
    He said the device usually is accurate, though the precision declines with complicated movements; for example, words that start with the same hand movement or orientation.

    Though not an expert on signlanguage by any means, I do remember learning about ASL as a grammatically complete language, i.e. that it was not merely a series of words but used some forms of particles an

  • Remember the book "Train Go Sorry" (about the
    deaf community, eg with some -declining- sur-
    gery that would give them the power to hear)?

    Why? Something about nurturing their deaf
    community, ie as something special & unique,
    just as valid & worth preserving as, say a
    particular & special species of whale, et al.

    Seems a bit like members of the Open Source
    Movement declining to load any flavor of
    Windows (or other proprietary software) onto
    their computers.

    (Also a bit like Fahren
    • +5 insightful, now i'm sorry i used my mod points up already.

      the easiest way to see if this is something useful for the non-hearing/speaking community is to ask them. i agree with your point that most people in certain situations don't see it as a disability or hinderance in day-to-day life, it's just part of life and who they are. along the same line of thinking, i have mixed feelings about documentaries or special clips on the news saluting people 'living with such a hard problem' or whatever. they get a
  • "Just keep your PowerGlove...off her."
  • A huge percentage of ASL is non-manual (I forget the percentage, but I think it's over 30%). Facial expression can completely change the meaning of a sentence. If you make exactly the same signs but shake your head, you've negated the meaning. Or if you say something but raise your eyebrows you turn it into a yes/no question. Distance is communicated with head tilt, size with the mouth, and some signs change depending on if you stick out your tongue. So it's not just a question of idiom, but a significant a
  • ... talk to the hand
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