Spring is upon us, but most areas are still experiencing some remnants of winter weather. So until the environment settles, keeping your favorite jacket, scarf, and gloves handy is a good practice.
But what if your garment pieces could communicate how you feel and what you need during those more frigid moments? Kenyan inventor Roy Allela answered that question and provided an accessibility solution with his smart gloves.
Allela is the brain behind Sign-IO, smart gloves that give the hearing impaired and deaf the ability to communicate with people who don’t know sign language.
According to Africa.com, Allela was inspired to create the technology after needing a method to communicate with his then-six-year-old niece, who was born deaf.
Sign-IO uses Bluetooth to connect to the product’s app. With this technology, flex sensors placed inside the gloves on each finger can quantify the bend of a finger and process the letters being signed.
“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing, and I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” Allela told ADC.
The gloves’ creator believes the power behind them really rests in the speed at which the signs are vocalized.
“People speak at different speeds, and it’s the same with people who sign – some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use it,” Allela continued to the outlet.
The gloves can also be customized to fit different colors and themes, such as a princess or Spider-Man.
The glove has 93% accuracy in language, gender, and audio pitch.
“It fights the stigma associated with being deaf and having a speech impediment. If the gloves look cool, every kid will want to know why you have them on,” he said about the product.
In 2018, Allela and Sign-IO won the Hardware Trailblazer Award during the American Society of Mechanical Engineers global finals contest.
With the brand’s success, Allela plans to get his product in schools across Kenya to assist with learning and accessibility equity for hearing-impaired children.