Young people from MIT develop gloves so that deaf and dumb people can speak but everything goes wrong


Life returns to relative normality in many areas and among them is fixation by lovers of science and technology for anything that develops from within the MIT.

Even when it comes to something apparently innovative but that doesn’t really work, like the story we shared with you today: the project SignAloud, smart gloves with an integrated audio system that in theory would be the future of solutions for the deaf community.

Perhaps many do not remember it, but back in 2016, with the release and development of new base systems for the development of motion and gesture detection platforms, there were tons of projects that sought to exploit this.

This is how multiple prototypes of smart gloves emerged from universities that could detect and interpret with relative precision the movements and gestures made with the hands.

At the time we even talked to them about gloves developed by the University of California at San Diego, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

SignAloud’s rejection story of MIT’s gloves for the deaf and dumb

Precisely in 2016, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known as MIT, acquired some virality and international coverage with the demonstration of its gloves for the deaf community.

Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor, the students responsible for this prototype won the 2016 Lemelson-MIT Student Award for creating SignAloudgloves that recognized American Sign Language hand gestures and translated them in near real time to text and voice.

These gloves can turn sign language into sound

These unique gloves turn sign language into audible sound. 🧤🎶 #engineering

Posted by Interesting Engineering on Monday, July 18, 2022

As we can see in this video that has just gained notoriety again, although it is something that happened eight years ago, the gloves are worn on both hands and contain sensors that record movement and send data wirelessly via Bluetooth to a central computer, which interprets words and phrases through a loudspeaker.

However, as colleagues at The Atlantic reported at the time, this and other similar projects at the time were harshly criticized by the deaf community:

“I was shocked and felt betrayed in a way because they obviously didn’t check with the deaf community or even with the teachers in the American Sign Language program to make sure they were representing our language appropriately.”

These are the words of Lance Forshay, who directs the American Sign Language program at the University of Wisconsin.

We remember the story of SignAloud: gloves developed by MIT engineers that were supposed to help the mute community.

And that is the big problem, basically in their development of the gloves they never considered the people themselves under such condition and ignored some essential elements.

Like the fact that facial gestures are complementary to hand gestures in sign language.

Reason why, in essence, all these prototypes were incomplete and in their most practical and real application they made the understanding process much more complicated because they were incomplete.

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