Technological developments are a good ally for overcoming certain communication barriers. A recently released device, based on noise-canceling headphones, is capable of translating sign languages into sound with the help of a smartphone.
The technology used is called Doppler, whose contribution is the detection of small fluctuations or echoes, present in the acoustic sound waves that are created by the hands of someone who signs.
Technology against communication barriers
The designated device is called SonicASL and was developed by researchers at the State University of New York in Buffalo, United States. Its name precisely refers to the American Sign Language (ASL).
This system demonstrated 93.8% effectiveness in the first indoor and outdoor tests. So far, SonicASL supports 42 words, including “love,” “space,” and “camera.” Under the same conditions, 30 simple sentences were effectively detected, such as “how nice to meet you”, with a registered effectiveness of 90.6%.
“SonicASL is an exciting proof of concept that could eventually help greatly improve communication between deaf and hearing populations.”says the study’s lead author, Zhanpeng Jin, in conversation with the house of studies that houses this project.
Outside of its main function of accessibility, this system is also proposed as an alternative to the work of some sign language translators who work through video, to avoid potential misuse of these recordings in specific contexts.
“The proposed SonicASL aims to develop an easy-to-use, convenient, and easy-to-use atrial style system to promote and facilitate communication between the deaf and hearing populations,” Jin added.
Before such technology is commercially available, this technology must be further honed. One weak point so far is its vocabulary database, which needs to be expanded considerably. In addition, the system must be able to recognize facial expressions, a fundamental element in ASL.
While this proposal is interesting, it is only a small starting point when viewed with a global perspective. According to figures from the World Federation of the Deaf, there are around 72 million deaf people who use more than 300 different sign languages.