‘Talking’ in American Sign Language takes a lot of dexterity from human hands. Even the individual letters of the alphabet often take all five fingers of one hand to speak. There’s where University of California, San Diego nano-engineer Darren Lipomi saw a chance to prove his concept for a low-cost electronic glove to interact with computers.
The final project, a collaboration between Lipomi and a handful of colleagues, was described in the July edition of PLOS ONE.
The glove, made completely from off-the-shelf components, cost under $100 to build. It calculates it’s position based on electrical fluctuations in stretch-sensitive polymers. With a built-in microprocessor and accelerometer reading hand movements, the ‘smart glove’ can translate regular letters on a screen into ASL.
According to Lipomi, understanding ASL is only the first step for the project, with plans to include tactile feedback.
“We want the user to be able to interact with virtual objects…to feel a cold Coke can or the biological milieu inside a virtual patient during surgical training”
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