News | 22.06.2012

Houston breakthrough heralds new age of professional translation for sign language

Professional translation services typically concern the mother tongues of major world economies – English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, to name just a few.

However, a new kind of professional translation could soon be possible thanks to an electronic breakthrough developed in Houston.

While MyVoice may sound like a NASA innovation, it was actually designed and built as a prototype by students at the University of Houston.

The compact device contains a database of sign language images – up to 300 pictures per signed word – and is able to recognise those words when they are signed in front of its video camera.

In addition to translating signs into spoken words, the device can also do the reverse, displaying dictated text on a built-in monitor as played-back videos of signs.

The students behind the innovation recognise not only the practical applications of effective translation services, but also their emotional impact.

“While designing and developing it, it turned into something very personal,” admits industrial design graduate Sergio Aleman.

“When we got to know members of the deaf community and really understood their challenges, it made MyVoice very important to all of us.”

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