University of Washington students win prestigious Lemelson-MIT prize for sign language translating gloves

Two University of Washington students have created innovative gloves that translate sign language into text and speech, making communication easier for deaf and hard-of-hearing people

A team of university students from the University of Washington has won the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, receiving a $10,000 award for their innovative invention: gloves that translate sign language into text and speech.

The Lemelson-MIT Prize is one of the most significant recognitions for student innovators in the United States. Winning this award demonstrates excellence and creativity in the fields of engineering and innovation. Their gloves represent a significant step toward technological inclusion and accessibility. Not only do they facilitate communication for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, but they can also be used in various applications, such as post-stroke rehabilitation and virtual reality.

How the sign language translating gloves work

The inventors, Navid Azodi (with extensive technical experience as an intern at NASA and Chief Technology Officer for UW Information Technology) and Thomas Pryor (a university researcher at the Composite Structures Laboratory in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics), developed the prototype in their spare time using technical resources provided by the CoMotion MakerSpace at the University of Washington, a space offering common equipment for students. Azodi and Pryor aimed to create a pair of gloves that not only translated American Sign Language but were also comfortable and lightweight, as Pryor explained:

“Many existing sign language translation devices are not practical for everyday use. Some use video input, while others have sensors that cover the entire arm or body of the user. These gloves, however, are more compact and cover only the hands. I hope that one day they can be as easy to use and as common as hearing aids or contact lenses.”

The “SignAloud” gloves are equipped with sensors that detect hand and finger movements. These sensors send signals to software that translates the gestures into text and speech, making communication more accessible for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals. The gloves use Bluetooth technology to transmit data to a central computer, which analyzes the movements and compares them to a database of American Sign Language (ASL) gestures.

The “SignAloud” gloves function through a series of integrated sensors that record the position and movement of the hands. This data is then wirelessly transmitted to a computer that uses advanced algorithms to recognize the gestures and translate them into corresponding words or phrases. When a gesture matches an entry in the database, the computer sends a signal to a speaker that pronounces the translated word or phrase.


The glove converts the wearer’s hand gestures into text and/or audible speech. 🎥 Lemelson MIT #signlanguageinterpreter #signlanguage

♬ original sound – interestingengineering

Source: University of Washington

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