University of California San Diego Engineers developed a smart glove that is capable of wirelessly translating the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet into text, and controls a virtual hand that mimics sign language gestures. They call it “The Language of Glove.” With less than $100, the engineers were able to develop the device using inexpensive stretchable and printable electronics that are commercially available and easy to assemble as well.
The team is also working on developing the glove to be used in different applications, like for virtual and augmented reality for telesurgery and technical training. “Gesture recognition is just one demonstration of this glove’s capabilities,” Timothy O’Connor, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego said. “Our ultimate goal is to make this a smart glove that in the future will allow people to use their hands in virtual reality, which is much more intuitive than using a joystick and other existing controllers. This could be better for games and entertainment, but more importantly for virtual training procedures in medicine, for example, where it would be advantageous to actually simulate the use of one’s hands.”
Construction and How it works
The team made use of a leather athletic glove and attached nine stretchable sensors to the back joints–two on each finger, and one on the thumb. The sensors are composed of thin strips of silicon-based polymer coated with conductive carbon paint. The sensors are then secured onto the glove using copper tape. Then, stainless steel thread connects the sensors to a low-power, custom-made circuit board that is attached to the back of the wrist.
Source: YouTube, JacobsSchoolNews
When the glove is stretched or bent, the sensors will detect the motion and change its electrical resistance. By doing so, it allows them to code the movements into different letters of the ASL alphabet based on the positions of all nine sensors attached to the glove. For example, a straight relaxed knuckle is read as “0”, and a bent knuckle is encoded as “1”. The code for the letter “a” is “011111111”, with the thumb straight and all the other fingers are curled. Whereas, The code for the letter “b” is “100000000”, with the thumb curled and all the other fingers are straight.
The low-power printed circuit board on the glove is responsible for converting the nine-digit key into a letter and then transmits the signals via Bluetooth to a smartphone or computer. The glove is capable of translating all 26 letters of the ASL Language alphabet into text. The researchers also used the glove to control a virtual hand to sign letters in the ASL alphabet.
Currently, the team is developing the next version of this glove to add the sense of touch. Their goal is to make a glove that can control a virtual or robotic hand and then send tactile sensations back to the user’s hand.