Wednesday 30 July, 2014

‘Signglasses’ to let deaf people see and feel

Published On: Wed, May 28th, 2014 | Global Health | By BioNews

In what could open a universe of opportunity for deaf people, a team of scientists have developed a system to project the sign language narration onto several types of glasses – including Google Glass.

The project – inspired by a visit to a planetarium by deaf students – is personal for Tyler Foulger and a few other student researchers from Brigham Young University because they were born deaf.

“My favourite part of the project is conducting experiments with deaf children in the planetarium,” Tyler said.

“They get to try on the glasses and watch a movie with an interpreter on the screen of the glasses. They are always thrilled and intrigued with what they have experienced. It makes me feel like what we are doing is worthwhile,” he explained.

The team tested the system during field trip visits by high school students at Jean Messieu School for the Deaf.

One finding from the tests is that the signer should be displayed in the centre of one lens.

That surprised the researchers, who assumed there would be a preference to have video displayed at the top, like the way Google Glass normally does it.

Deaf participants preferred to look straight through the signer when they returned their focus to the planetarium show.

The potential for this technology goes beyond planetarium shows.

The team is also working with researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology to explore “signglasses” as a literacy tool.

“Having a group of students who are fluent in sign language here at the university has been huge. We got connected into that community of fluent sign language students and that opened a lot of doors for us,” said group leader professor Mike Jones.

The results would be shared at the ‘Interaction Design and Children (IDC)’ seminar at Aarhus University in Denmark June 17-20.

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