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Black Engineer Invents Gloves That Turn Sign Language Into Audible Words

“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing and I’m able to understand what she’s saying.”

(Cover Photo:  Brett Eloff/Royal Academy of Engineering)

Roy Allela, a 25-year-old Kenyan Intel employee and tutor at Oxford University, invented smart gloves that translate hand motions (sign language) into audible speech.

The gloves are called “Sign IO”. There are sensors attached to every finger on the glove which are responsible for identifying the letter or word being demonstrated.

The glove then connects to a mobile phone app, which vocalizes the letters through your phone.

Allela was inspired to do this because of his six-year-old niece who was born deaf. Nobody in the family knew sign language. Something had to be done so that his young niece could communicate with the rest of the family.

Photo Credit: Brett Eloff/Royal Academy of Engineering

Allela tells The Guardian news outlet, “I was trying to envision how my niece’s life would be if she had the same opportunities as everyone else in education, employment, all aspects of life.”

He goes on to say, “The general public in Kenya doesn’t understand sign language so when she goes out, she always needs a translator. Picture over the long term that dependency, how much that plagues or impairs her progress in life … when it affects you personally, you see how hard people have it in life. That’s why I’ve really strived to develop this project to completion.”

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