Portable Sign Language Translator, world’s first sign-language-to-text app, being developed

Scottish researchers have announced work on the world's first sign-language-to-text application, the Telegraph reported

The Portable Sign Language Translator project, which is intended for camera-ready devices like Smartphones, iPads and most laptops, could be launched within a year, researchers say

Application users would record themselves signing on camera, generating footage that would be translated into text and displayed on screen, according to the Telegraph.  

One of the project directors, Dr. Ernesto Compatangelo, said the new application could dramatically change the lives of more than 50,000 users of British Sign language whose communication would be "immediately translated into text which can be read by the person they are conversing with," according to The Scotsman

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The project is being developed by Technabling, a spin-out company of the University of Aberdeen. One of its stated goals is to improve employment opportunities for young deaf people, said BBC

Compatangelo hopes the platform provided by the new application will lead to expansion within sign language itself.

"One of the most innovative and exciting aspects of the technology is that it allows sign language users to actually develop their own signs for concepts and terms they need to have in their vocabulary," he told BBC.  

Researchers also hope to make the technology adaptable to the various linguistic needs of the world's over 200 identified sign languages.

Technabling scientists have already compiled a "substantial library of slightly less than 10,000 different coded gestures (and thus words)," according to a statement on the project put out by Technabling, describing it as "indeed a comprehensive vocabulary."

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