Modern wearables have certainly found their niche within our society – spanning in usage from cardio queens and calorie counters, to heart rate and glucose monitors on patients – but what about translation services for the disabled? Although you are able to instantly translate foreign languages at the touch of a button – there seem to be a few gaps in our overall accessibility. How do these services work for the hearing impaired? Or the visually impaired? The answers may finally be here, thanks to the brilliant minds at Google and MIT’s Media Lab. Drumroll, please! Introducing…”Google Gesture” and “FingerReader”.
Although it is still in its conceptual stage, Google Gesture is a device that takes shape as motion-tracking arm bands, measuring the intricate muscle movements as well as forearm gestures in a process known as electromyography, and translates them directly into “spoken” Sign Language via the application on your mobile device. There is no more finger-spelling or playing what feels to be charades with your deaf friend – this wearable, matched with its application, does all of the work for you to bridge any communication barriers.
FingerReader has advanced to testing stages, but is a wearable “ring” that acts as an e-reader, automatically scanning the words that your finger traces, reading them aloud. When you do reach the end of a line, a small vibration alerts the user to the transition. This allows a different world of communication to open up – given the fact that only 7% of all printed books are currently available in braille, imagine the opportunities!
As Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web quoted, “the power of the Web resides in its universality. Access by everyone, regardless of disability, is an essential aspect.” Years beyond his time, Tim hit this concept right on the head. Thanks to these modern technological advancements, we can make this a reality to all parts of our society, and it’s all thanks to the wearable!