Benevolent Students Win Esteemed Prize for Gloves That Translate American Sign Language Into Speech

Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi, both undergraduate engineering students from the University of Washington, have won the esteemed Lemelson-MIT Student Prize of $10,000 for their brilliantly conceived SignAloud gloves that can recognize and translate words and gestures of American Sign Language (ASL) into vocalized speech and text.

Their invention, “SignAloud,” is a pair of gloves that can recognize hand gestures that correspond to words and phrases in American Sign Language. Each glove contains sensors that record hand position and movement and send data wirelessly via Bluetooth to a central computer. The computer looks at the gesture data through various sequential statistical regressions, similar to a neural network. If the data match a gesture, then the associated word or phrase is spoken through a speaker.

The students decided upon this collaborative project due to their shared belief in the accessibility of communication. Azodi spoke with UW Today about what he and Pryor set out to do.

“Our purpose for developing these gloves was to provide an easy-to-use bridge between native speakers of American Sign Language and the rest of the world. The idea initially came out of our shared interest in invention and problem solving. But coupling it with our belief that communication is a fundamental human right, we set out to make it more accessible to a larger audience.”


The SignAloud invention sheet is available to read and download.

image via University of Washington

via Fast Company