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Kenyan Man Invents Smart Gloves that Turn Sign Language Movements into Audio Speech

Kenyan Man Invents Smart Gloves that Turn Sign Language Movements into Audio Speech

Over 30 million speech impaired people around the globe rely on sign language as a means of communication. But sign language isn’t understood by most of the people on the planet, which creates a communication barrier for people with speech impairment.

Roy Allela, a 25-year-old Kenyan man has invented smart gloves that can convert hand gestures of sign language into audio speech. This innovation could change the lives of hearing-impaired people across the world.

Dubbed Sign-IO, the gloves have sensors stitched to each finger. The sensors interpret the word being signed from the bend of the finger.

Allela said challenges faced by his deaf niece inspired him to create the gloves. He also said that the speed at which the signs are vocalized is one of the most important aspects of the smart gloves:

“My 6-year-old niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing and I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” says Allela.

“People speak at different speeds and it’s the same with people who sign – some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use it.”

Mobile app and a smart glove
A smart phone paired to the smart smart gloves invented by Roy Allela. (Photo: Courtesy)

The Sign-IO delivers give translations in real-time and the gloves can be set to customized interpretation speeds, explains Allela. The device can also be altered to manipulate the pitch, speed and tone of the voice reports CapeTalk.

Allela is among 16 young Africans who have been shortlisted by The Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for inventors from six countries. He says the recognition is a wonderful validation of his work and a great opportunity to put African inventors on the map.

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