Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but deaf people can have a difficult time communicating with hearing people. The easiest method of interaction is sign language, but unless you or a loved one regularly use it, you probably don’t know how to communicate in ASL (American Sign Language). Thus, deaf people often must resort to a time-consuming back-and-forth with hearing people using pen and paper. The below video paints the picture well:
MotionSavvy is working on a much better solution using Leap Motion technology. In a nutshell, with a leap motion controller attached to a tablet, a user can sign above the device, and the tablet will convert the hand movements into audible speech.
It’s a brilliant use of what is essentially off-the-shelf technology, and the crew developing it secured support from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s saunders startup program as well as a spot in the Leap Motion accelerator program.
The group’s reason for creating this technology extends beyond just making it easier for tech-savvy folks in first-world nations, though. MotionSavvy’s website lists some frankly shocking statistics about the 360 million deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide.
“As much as 90% of the world’s Deaf children and adults have never been to school and are thus more or less illiterate,” it reads. “It has frequently been observed that sign language is repressed in many countries and its use is not permitted in education. With no education, most deaf people in poor countries cannot read their own name or count to 10.”
MotionSavvy wants its technology to help those people by offering a much more inexpensive solution for communication.
Incidentally, learning ASL is not especially difficult--it’s certainly easier to become passably good at sign language than it is any foreign language. Although there is a great deal of “vocabulary” to learn and some usage to figure out, once you learn the alphabet you can finger spell any words you don’t know.