According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are around 70 million people worldwide whose first language is some kind of sign language. In the US, ASL (American Sign Language) speakers number from five hundred thousand to two million. If you go to Google translate, though, there’s no option for sign language.
[Alex Foley] and friends decided to do something about that. They were attending McHack (a hackathon at McGill University) and decided to convert speech into sign language. They thought they were prepared, but it turns out they had to work a few things out on the fly. (Isn’t that always the case?) But in the end, they prevailed, as you can see in the video below.
The heart of the project is a pair of 3D-printed hands. At first, they accidentally printed two left hands. They printed a right hand quickly, but they found out later they were missing one segment which they wound up carving out of wood. Fishing line formed tendons and there were enough servos to require two CPU boards to drive everything.
The speech recognition is from Nuance and if listen closely to the video, you’ll see they are signing “hello” and “goodbye.” We’ll have to take their word for it that the signing is correct and legible.
Thanks to [Butter] for the tip.