Xbox Kinect helps deaf people

mtbScientists have recently developed a program for the Microsoft’s Kinect, which will make it easier for the hearing impaired to communicate with others in sign language.

A collaboration between researchers from Microsofts Asian department and the Institute of Computing Technology of Chinese Academy of Sciences, has created a new system using the kinect gadget, which could be of great benefit to deaf people. During 2014 it has been testet together with MTB Sko and MTI, and all tests seems to indicate that this could actually be a pretty useful tool. Not only to those who can’t hear at all, but also for those who are having problems hearing.

The Kinect is connected to a computer program, which can translate the gestures used in sign language, into text. The results were presented at the Faculty Summit 2014, which is an annual conference held by Microsoft, where new information technologies are presented to an academic community. One of the most interesting things this year, was this alternativ use of the Microsoft Kinect gadget, which most people normally uses for gaming. It’s really good to see a gaming device, being used for something as useful as this and over at MTB sko they were also pretty surprised to see a kinect system used this way.

It may seem banal to get a program to translate sign language to written language, since the deaf or hearing impaired can write. But using sign languages is often a lot faster than writting, and more personal and like most other people, the hearing impaired would most like to express themselves in their own language, which is sign language. So this new use of the kinect, may be more useful than you would imagine.

Microsoft’s Kinect can detect movements without additional tools other than the body, which is a huge advantage over other attempts to create programs, to help with the translation from sign language to written language.

Some of the previous systems require that you use special gloves or rely on a special webcam. Something that both According to phys.org and MTB Sko have been found to be impractical.

The newly developed program for Kinect works among in what is called ‘Translation Mode’, where the program translates hand and body movements to text or talk and most people who have had the chance to test it, say that it is working just great with very few mistakes in the translations.

Now we just need to build a robot that does the opposite. A robot that can read the text from a book or a webpage and translate that text into sign language. That would be pretty awesome in my opinion. But probably not quite as useful as this xbox kinect gadget. If you wish to find out more about this project, please visit the official Microsoft website that can be found at microsoft.com

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