A Kenyan engineer proves how family is often the best source of inspiration.
Allela’s design uses sensors placed in the gloves that detect any movement in the fingers. The sensors transfer the movements through a Bluetooth connection to an android phone which then translates the sign language into audible conversation. This means that the slightest bend of the finger can be turned into audible speech.
The motivation behind Allela’s design comes from wanting to help his niece, who is deaf, communicate properly. “My niece wears the gloves, pairs them with her phone or mine, then starts signing. I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” the engineer shared with The Guardian. Thanks to her ability to lip read, Allela and his family don’t need to sign back.
What is also interesting about the design is that the young innovator was able to make adjustments after piloting the product in a special needs school, for those who sign at different speeds. Just as people speak at different speeds, people sign at different rates, too.
After adjusting the pitch, gender, and language of the speech, the gloves have an accuracy level of 93 percent. And what’s more, they come in a pretty cool Spiderman or princess design to help reduce any stigma for any kids wearing them. As Allela points out: “If the gloves look cool, every kid will want to know why you have them on.”
Although the gloves are still at a prototype level, the design won the 2018 “Hardware Trailblazer Award” at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and was a runner-up at the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders in Innovation Fellowship in London.
The story behind this innovation shows how the love we share for our family can inspire us to help the lives of complete strangers. Not only is Allela an incredible uncle, he’s a very impressive engineer, too!
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?