Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Cell Phone Technology Allows Deaf People To Communicate – Via American Sign Language – Anytime, Anywhere

07.12.2009
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, cell phone use has largely been limited to text messaging. But technology is catching up: Cornell researchers and colleagues have created cell phones that allow deaf people to communicate in sign language – the same way hearing people use phones to talk.
“We completely take cell phones for granted,” said Sheila Hemami, Cornell professor of electrical and computer engineering, who leads the research with Eve Riskin and Richard Ladner of the University of Washington. “Deaf people can text, but if texting were so fabulous, cell phones would never develop.

There is a reason that we like to use our cell phones. People prefer to talk.”

The technology, Hemami continued, is about much more than convenience. It allows deaf people “untethered communication in their native language” – exactly the same connectivity available to hearing people, she said.

Since the project, Mobile ASL (American Sign Language), started four years ago, the researchers have published several academic papers on their technology and given talks around the world. The first phone prototypes were created last year and are now in the hands of about 25 deaf people in the Seattle area.

Standard videoconferencing is used widely in academia and industry, for example, in distance-learning courses. But the Mobile ASL team designed their video compression software specifically with ASL users in mind, with the goal of sending clear, understandable video over existing limited bandwidth networks. They also faced such constraints as phones’ battery life and their ability to process real-time video at enough frames per second. They solved the battery life problem by writing software smart enough to vary the frames per second based on whether the user is signing or watching the other person sign.

Because ASL requires efficient motion capture, the researchers had to make video compression software that could deliver video at about 10 frames per second. They also had to work within the standard wireless 2G network, which only allows transmission of video at about 15-20 kilobits per second.

This is a relatively small amount of information when compared with a YouTube video, which travels at about 600 kilobits per second. For further comparison, high-definition digital television images come in at 6-10 megabits per second.

Researching how ASL developed gave the team clues on how people use it, said Frank Ciaramello, a graduate student working on the project. They learned that deaf people often use only one hand to sign, depending on the situation, and that they’re very good at adapting as needed.

And they found that when two people are talking to each other, they spend almost the entire time focused on the other person’s face.

“The facial expressions are really important in ASL, because they add a lot of information,” Ciaramello said. They concluded that their cell phone video would have to be clearest in the face and hands, while they could spare some detail in the torso and in the background. Studies with deaf people who rated different videos on an intelligibility scale helped the researchers hone in on the best areas to focus in their video.

The researchers are now perfecting their intelligibility metrics while also looking for ways to bring down the cost of integrating the software into the phones. Making the phones as user friendly as possible is a key goal of the project, Hemami said.

“We don’t want people to use the technology and say, ‘This is annoying,’” Hemami said. “We want it to be really technology transparent. We want them to call their mother and have a nice conversation.”

This research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Blaine Friedlander | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaE1PvJwI8E

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Equipping form with function
23.06.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity
23.06.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>