Menu
Microsoft uses Kinect to interpret sign language from deaf people

Microsoft uses Kinect to interpret sign language from deaf people

The technology can also help non-deaf users translate spoken words into sign language

Microsoft Research is using Kinect to create sign language translation technology.

Microsoft Research is using Kinect to create sign language translation technology.

Microsoft's Kinect technology, already adept at reading hand and body movements, is incorporating sign language into its motion-sensing vocabulary as part of a new research project meant to help the deaf.

Developers at Microsoft Research have been using the Xbox 360 gaming peripheral to read sign language from deaf users, and translate it into spoken text. On Wednesday, they showed off some of the results. "Thanks Microsoft for turning my dream into a reality," gestured Yin Dandan, a deaf student, who demonstrated the Kinect translator.

The technology can not only turn sign language into words spoken by a computer, but also do the reverse. A non-deaf user can speak or type words into the Kinect translator. The system will then motion the words in sign language using a virtual avatar shown on a display. (A video of the translator can be found here).

Microsoft Research demonstrated the technology as it celebrated the 15th year of its Asia division. Language translation has been among one of its focuses and already researchers there have developed software that can artificially replicate a person's voice, and have it speak other languages, including Chinese.

At the same time, the company has been promoting the use of Kinect among software developers in China, said Wu Guobin, a Microsoft Research program manager. The gadget has proven to be an ideal motion-sensing device for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has long been researching sign language recognition technology.

Researchers have previously tried to use cameras, and even "digital gloves", to capture sign language gestures. But these devices are expensive, with the cameras costing between 10,000 yuan ($1,632) and 30,000 yuan, Wu said. In contrast, the Kinect is an affordable alternative, at only 1,000 yuan, he added.

Starting in February 2012, Microsoft Research began collaboration on the project with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Beijing Union University. After about 18 months of development, the Kinect translator can now recognize 370 of the most popular words in Chinese Sign Language, and American Sign Language

The research team hopes to collaborate with more experts in the field and is also surveying the deaf to find the best use cases for the Kinect translator.

It's thought that the system could help deaf users make presentations to non-sign language speaking crowds. Deaf users working at an information kiosk could also more easily communicate with visitors who need help.

It is not known when the technology will arrive in the market, Wu said. Microsoft is still working on improving the language recognition technology, and needs to expand the vocabulary of sign language the system recognizes.

"I think it's been great. In a year and half, we have already developed the system prototype," Wu said. "The results have been published in key conferences, and other researchers have said the results are very good."

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftsoftwareindustry verticalsvoice recognition

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments