Kenyan invents smart gloves that sound out sign language motions

Kenyan man Roy Allela has invented smart gloves that could change the lives of hearing impaired people across the world.

His gloves, named Sign-IO, convert sign language motion into audio speech.

The gloves have sensors stitched to each finger. The sensors interpret the word being signed from the bend of the finger.

The 25-year-old says he was inspired to create the gloves after witnessing the challenges faced by his deaf niece.

Six years ago I became an uncle and my niece was born deaf. As she was coming of age, we found it challenging to communicate with her and understand what she was saying.

Roy Allela, Sign-IO founder

The Sign-IO gloves give translations in real-time and the gloves can be set to customised interpretation speeds, he explains.

The gadget can also be altered to manipulate the pitch, speed and tone of the voice.

As she signs, we paired the gloves with a phone via Bluetooth and the signs would be vocalised on the phone with audio on the other end.

Roy Allela, Sign-IO founder

He plans to have at least two prototypes of his gloves placed in special needs schools across Kenya before improving and commercialising the invention.

We need to get a lot of data in order to improve its accuracy because its premise is on machine learning.

Roy Allela, Sign-IO founder

Allela has been nominated on the 2019 shortlist for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation for his invention.

The awards recognise the most promising entrepreneurial engineers from across sub-Saharan Africa.

He says the recognition is a wonderful validation of his work and a great opportunity to put African inventors on the map.

Listen to his inspiring story on The Pippa Hudson Show:

Image: Global African Diaspora Development Network on Twitter.


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