One of the biggest hurdles for someone who communicates by signing is the difficulty in communicating with people who don’t sign. It can be a roadblock in getting hired for meaningful work, as well as developing stronger relationships with non-signers.
MotionSavvy is working to change all that.
This company, which is made up entirely of deaf individuals, has developed a product they’re calling UNI. It’s a tablet with special software that can translate the hand motions of sign language into speech, and then speech into text. They are fundraising right now on Indiegogo, offering a discounted price to people who preorder now.
The discounted price is $198 and there’s a $20 monthly subscription fee for software updates, but it looks pretty revolutionary, and it’s the first time anyone has created a device that can “read” hand movements and translate them.
Here’s how it works: the person signing does so in front of the tablet, and the software speaks the words out loud for the non-signer to hear. Then the non-signer speaks their response into the mic along the edge of the tablet, and the software turns the speech into written text which the deaf person can now read. If we could then add an optional bluetooth refreshable braille display this could be accessible to people who are deaf-blind too!
It allows for more seamless communication than writing notes back and forth, or texting on a smartphone.
The group of entrepreneurs met while attending Rochester Institute of Technology, where they entered and won a tech contest with this device. They’ve been working on it ever since.