One of the key functions for humans is communication. When you lack one or more of your senses, such as the ability to hear sounds, communications can become a great deal more challenging. People who can’t hear often learn sign language, in which hand gestures can represent the letters of the alphabet, individual words, or even concepts. This can be a very effective means of communicating, provided that the other person in the conversation knows the same sign language.

A university student at Goldsmiths University of London in England has been working on a solution to this problem. Hadeel Ayoub has created a series of smart glove prototypes that can detect sign language gestures, and use digital processing to translate them so that the wearer can be understood by someone who does not know sign language. The third prototype — shown above — has the circuitry and processors incorporated into the glove. This design can generate text that is scrolls on a small screen. It also incorporates a text-to-speech module, so the signed gestures can actually be spoken out loud.

Ayoub has more ambitious plans in store. She wants to incorporate a wireless communications system for the glove, so that it does not have to be tethered to a computing device by a wire harness. She also speaks Arabic, French, and English, and wants to add a language translation feature to the system so that people can communicate with each other whether they are deaf or hearing, and regardless of the language that they speak. Companies have already approached her about taking the device into commercial production.