Thumbs up! These smart gloves translate sign language to text – CNET

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These smart gloves can translate hand movements into A-OK text.

Claire Reilly/CNET

If you’ve played Wii, HTC Vive or (yeah, I’ll say it) Just Dance, you’re no stranger to seeing your movements rendered in 3D animation.

But what if this gesture-recognition technology could be used to break down communication barriers and isolation within the deaf community?

A new set of smart gloves is promising just that, by translating finger and hand movements into text, allowing deaf people to easily communicate with strangers through a simple smartphone app.

Developed by Taiwanese company Yingmi Tech and shown off at Computex in Taipei this week, the gloves features sensors in the fingers as well as a gyroscope and accelerometer in a unit on the wrist. The sensors transmit finger and hand movements via Bluetooth to a smartphone app, translating gestures to text.

Wearing the gloves, it’s pretty easy to see how this kind of tech could have a profound impact on daily life for people who are deaf or experience hearing loss.

Sadly, my Australian sign language was no help when I demo’d the gloves at Computex — they’d been programmed for Chinese sign language. Still, Yingmi says its technology has far-reaching applications, and it’s working with other developers to expand the use cases. 

Who knows — in the future, I could write out this whole story in sign language.

Be sure to check out the rest of CNET’s Computex 2017 coverage here.

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