AFRICA ON THE RISE TECHNOLOGY

A Kenyan Genius has Invented Gloves that Translate Sign Language into Speech

Founder of Sign-IO speech translator

According to a report by the World Health Organization, more than 466million people in the world have a hearing loss, 34 million being children. It’s estimated that by 2050, over 900 million people will have a hearing loss problem. Though some of the causes of hearing impairment are preventable, we cannot be blind to the fact that hearing loss creates a barrier in communication. This is the reason why a Kenyan genius has invented gloves that translate sign language into speech. The young guy is a software engineer who has strong programming skills that have helped him design a handy tool to facilitate communication between the hearing and the deaf/mute.

The role of technology is to provide solutions to life’s daily problems. Inspired by this, one brilliant Kenyan champ noted a struggle that his family experienced. It was struggling to converse with his deaf niece. Roy Allela went out of his way to invent a pair of gloves that translate the sign language into audible speech. This invention would not only solve his niece’s predicament but provide a solution to millions of people who are hearing challenged. To use this communication, an android phone ( or a smartphone) with a Bluetooth connection is needed. The gloves are designed to use Support Vector Machine on the Intel Edison to interpret letters signed by sign language users. The data of the gesture is then transmitted into an Android device where it is vocalized. ”My niece wears the gloves, pairs them with her phone or mine then she starts signing. I can understand what she’s saying,” said Allela.

Global Newswire predicts that hearing sensors will cost US$30 billion in 2024. That is a very huge global challenge considering that hearing loss remedies are too costly. In this regard, the Kenyan engineer’s innovation would have solved a big problem in the world. Roy says that he looks forward to the spread of this handy tool in special schools. It will facilitate learning in young children with hearing loss and hearing impairments. These gloves (Sign-IO) are just in the prototype phase but they are doing the work perfectly. It’s evident that once they are out in the market, a big problem will have been solved. This would be a dream come true for this amazing innovator and creative engineer.

Roy Allela’s Sign-IO gloves have won him recognition in the world. He has also won several awards since his idea came into life. In 2017, Roy was the award winner for the best technology with the social impact of the ”Hardware Trailblazer Award at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in the ISHOW at New York. Here Sign-IO competed with leading brands from America, India and the rest of the world but ended outsmarting all of them. The 25-year-old won the second position in the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders in Innovation Fellowship in London. On top of that Sign-IO was placed as runners-up in the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering 2019 finals.

Breaking the communication gap between those who hear and the deaf/mute is an all-time technology. By just the use of mobile technology and programming skills a Kenyan engineer who has invented gloves that translate sign language into speech won the attention of many. His innovative mind has proved that technology is the answer to the daily problems that humankind face. Sign-IO is a great invention of our time.

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