Scientists have developed a new system to project the sign language narration onto several types of glasses – including Google Glass, opening a universe of opportunity for deaf people.
The project inspired by a visit to a planetarium by deaf students is personal for Tyler Foulger and a few other student researchers from Brigham Young University because they were born deaf.
“My favourite part of the project is conducting experiments with deaf children in the planetarium,” Foulger said.
“They get to try on the glasses and watch a movie with an interpreter on the screen of the glasses. They’re always thrilled and intrigued with what they’ve experienced. It makes me feel like what we are doing is worthwhile,” he said.
The team tested the system during field trip visits by high school students at Jean Messieu School for the Deaf.
One finding from the tests is that the signer should be displayed in the centre of one lens.
That surprised the researchers, who assumed there would be a preference to have video displayed at the top, like the way Google Glass normally does it.
Deaf participants preferred to look straight through the signer when they returned their focus to the planetarium show.
The potential for this technology goes beyond planetarium shows. The team is also working with researchers at Georgia Tech to explore signglasses as a literacy tool.
“One idea is when you’re reading a book and come across a word that you don’t understand, you point at it, push a button to take a picture, some software figures out what word you’re pointing at and then sends the word to a dictionary and the dictionary sends a video definition back,” said group leader professor Mike Jones.