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Sign Language Out Loud

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the gestures dept.

Biotech 45

hcetSJ writes " has an article about a glove that reads sign language and can translate to spoken English. Although it's only one-handed now, and can only handle about 200 words, the inventor has further plans for a second hand and wider vocabulary. I wonder if this could be linked with the Rosetta Stone idea, to quickly expand the vocabulary. Also mentioned in the article is the possibility of military use...gaming control can't be far off." grvsmth points to a more detailed article on GWU's website.

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GNAA! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6625137)

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heh (4, Funny)

Tirel (692085) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625163)

I wonder what it says when you're masturbating?

Re:heh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6625280)

"Oh yeah, don't stop"

-- Amanda Lefthanda

Re:heh (-1, Troll)

Tirel (692085) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625391)

i see slashdot is not ready to talk about WHAT NEARLY THE WHOLE PLANET DOES ALL THE TIME.

will the mod who thinks this is a troll please stand up?

moral high ground

blah blah

mod me down whatever i have excellent karma

its not funny i got it in like 36 hours


maybe i should just post nonsense until i get to positive again

at least there'll be a point in karma whoring

i dont know


and now here i present THE HEDONISTIC IMPERATIVE

This manifesto outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolitionist project is ambitious, implausible, but technically feasible. It is defended here on ethical utilitarian grounds. Nanotechnology and genetic-engineering allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Post-humans will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.

The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they served the inclusive fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. They can be replaced by a radically different sort of neural architecture. Life-long happiness of an intensity now physiologically unimaginable can become the genetically-preprogrammed norm of mental health. A sketch is offered of when, and why, this major evolutionary transition in the history of life is likely to occur. Possible objections, both practical and moral, are raised and then rebutted.

Today's images of opiate-addled junkies, and the lever-pressing frenzies of intra-cranially self-stimulating rats, are deceptive. Such stereotypes stigmatise, and falsely discredit, the only remedy for the world's horrors and everyday discontents that is biologically realistic. For it is misleading to contrast social and intellectual development with perpetual happiness. There need be no such trade-off. States of "dopamine-overdrive" can actually enhance exploratory and goal-directed activity. Hyper-dopaminergic states can also increase the range and diversity of actions an organism finds rewarding. So our descendants may live in a civilisation of well-motivated "high-achievers", animated by gradients of bliss. Their productivity may far eclipse our own.

Two hundred years ago, before the development of potent synthetic pain-killers or surgical anaesthetics, the notion that "physical" pain could be banished from most people's lives would have seemed no less bizarre. Most of us in the urban-industrial West now take its daily absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as "mental" pain, too, could one day be superseded is equally counter-intuitive. The technical option of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of political policy and ethical choice. to you


"Happiness is an illusion; only suffering is real."
0.1 The Naturalisation of Heaven.
This manifesto combines far-fetched utopian advocacy with cold-headed social-scientific prediction. The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how nanotechnology and genetic engineering will eliminate aversive experience from the living world. Over the next thousand years or so, the biological substrates of suffering will be eradicated completely. "Physical" and "mental" pain alike are destined to disappear into evolutionary history. The biochemistry of everyday discontents will be genetically phased out too. Instead, matter and energy will be sculpted into perpetually life-loving super-beings. Their states of mind are likely to be incomprehensibly diverse by comparison with today. Yet all will share at least one common feature: a sublime and all-pervasive happiness.

This feeling of absolute well-being will surpass anything which human neurochemistry and imagination can presently access, let alone sustain. The story gets better. Post-human states of quite magical joy will be biologically purified, multiplied and intensified indefinitely. Notions of what now passes for tolerably good mental health will be superseded. They will be written off as mood-congruent pathologies of the primordial Darwinian psyche. Such ugly thoughts and feelings will be diagnosed as typical of the tragic lives of emotional primitives from the previous era. In time, the deliberate re-creation of today's state-spectrum of normal waking and dreaming consciousness may be outlawed as cruel and immoral.

Such speculations may currently sound fantastical. Yet the ideas of this manifesto may one day come to be regarded as intellectually trite - albeit today morally urgent. For what might once have been the stuff of millennialist fantasy is set to become a scientifically feasible research program. Its adoption or rejection will become, ultimately, a social policy issue. Passively or actively, we will have to choose just how much unpleasantness we wish to create or conserve - if any - in eras to come.

0.2 Saving Vehicles With Bad Drivers.
Blind selective pressures have acted on living organisms over hundreds of millions of years. Darwinian evolution has powerfully favoured the growth of ever more diverse, excruciating, but also more adaptive varieties of psychophysical pain. Its sheer nastiness effectively spurs and punishes the living vehicles of genetic replicators. Sadness, anxiety and malaise are frequently good for our genes; they're just psychologically bad for us. In absolute terms, global suffering is probably still increasing as the population explosion continues. Human ingenuity has struggled, often vainly, to rationalise and somehow derive value from the most frightful anguish. But over the aeons the very anguish which intermittently corrodes the well-being of the individual organism has differentially promoted the inclusive fitness of its DNA. Hence it has tended to get inexorably worse.

Of course such doom-and-gloom isn't the whole picture. The world's horrors can be contrasted with life's more rewarding experiences. People sometimes have fun. Long-lasting depression is rarely adaptive. Yet what Michael Eysenck describes as the "hedonic treadmill" ensures that very few of us can be very happy for very long. An interplay of cruelly effective negative feedback mechanisms is at work in the central nervous system. Feedback-inhibition ensures that a majority of people would be periodically bored, depressed or angst-ridden in a recreated Garden of Eden.

A small minority of humans do in fact experience states of indefinitely prolonged euphoria. These states of involuntary well-being are usually pathologised as "manic". Unlike unipolar depression, sustained unipolar mania is very rare. Other folk who just have high "hedonic set-points", but who aren't manic or bipolar, are sometimes described as "hyperthymic" instead. This isn't a common mindset either. "Bipolar disorder", on the other hand, is experienced in the course of a lifetime by perhaps one in a hundred people or more. Popularly known as manic-depression, it has several sub-types. Mood characteristically alternates between euphoria and abject despair. Cycles may vary in length. It is a complex genetic condition which runs in families. Typically, bipolarity is marked by a genetic variation in the serotonin transporter as compared to "euthymic" normals. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in sleep, sociability, feeding, activity, mood, and a lot else besides. The serotonin transporter mops up "excess" serotonin released by nerve cells into the synapses. Very crudely, manic states are associated with enhanced dopamine and norepinephrine function; serotonin function is dysregulated or low.

Sadly, in today's "bipolars" manic exuberance can spin out of control. Euphoria may be accompanied by hyperactivity, sleeplessness, chaotically racing ideas, pressure of speech and grandiose thought. Hyper-sexuality, financial excesses and religious delusions are common. So is rampant egomania. Sometimes dysphoria may occur. In dysphoric mania the manic "high" is actually unpleasant. The excited subject may be angry, agitated, panicky, paranoid, and destructive. When in the grip of classic euphoric mania, however, it's hard to recognise that anyone might think anything is wrong. This is because everything feels utterly right. To suppose otherwise is like going to Heaven and then being invited to believe there has been a mistake. It's not credible.

Today, euphoric (hypo-)mania is liable to be clinically subdued with drugs. ["Hypomania" denotes simply a milder mania.] Toxic "medication" can depress elevated mood to duller but "normal" levels. Such flatter and supposedly healthier levels of emotion enable otherwise euphoric people to function within contemporary society. Compliance with a medically-dictated treatment-regimen (lithium, sodium valproate, carbamazepine etc.) will be enhanced if the victim can be persuaded that euphoric well-being is pathological. (S)he can then look for warning signs and symptoms. By the norms of our genetically-enriched posterity, however, it is the rest of us who are chronically unwell - if not more so. Contemporary standards of mental health are just pathologically low. Our super-well descendants, by contrast, will enjoy a glorious spectrum of new options. They may opt to combine emotional stability, resilience and "serotonergic" serenity, for instance, with the goal-oriented energy, optimism and initiative of a raw "dopaminergic" high. Post-humans will have discovered that euphoric peak experiences can be channelled, controlled and genetically diversified, not just medically suppressed.

For there is a cruel irony here. Clinically prescribed mood-darkeners would be laughably redundant for the great bulk of humanity. At present, life for billions of genetically "normal" people is often very grim indeed. No amount of piecemeal political and economic reform, nor even radical social engineering, can overcome this biological reality. Today's billion-and-one routes to supposedly lasting happiness are pursued in the guise of innumerable intentional objects. [Intentionality in philosophy-speak is the 'aboutness' or 'object-directedness' of thought]. We convince ourselves that all manner of things would potentially make us happy. All these peripheral routes are not merely vastly circuitous and inefficient. In the main, they just don't, and can't, durably work. At best, they can serve as superficial palliatives of the human predicament. If the mind/brain's emotional thermostat, as it were, is not genetically and pharmacologically reset, then even the greatest triumphs and successes turn to ashes. Lottery winners, cup-final hat-trick scorers and blissful newly-weds are left time and again to discover this fate anew. Even those of us who tend to lead a relatively happy day-to-day existence will, in the course of a lifetime, undergo spells of wretched unhappiness and disappointment.

It would be easy but unwarranted simply to extrapolate past and present trends into the indefinite future. Usually, we assume without question that our descendants - however different from us in other respects - will be biologically prone to suffer negative states of consciousness. We suppose that future generations will sometimes feel distress, both subtle and crude, just as we have always done ourselves. Yet this assumption may be naive. The neurochemical basis of feeling and emotion is rapidly being unravelled. The human genome is going to get decoded and rewritten. In ages to come, it will become purely an issue of (post-)human decision whether unpleasant modes of consciousness are generated in any form or texture whatsoever. Aversive experience is a sinister anachronism. We will have to decide if we should inflict suffering on ourselves or on others. A terrible but once unavoidable fact of organic life then becomes instead a matter for active moral choice. And that choice can be declined.

0.3 Humans Are Not Rats.
One possibility, though not an option to be canvassed here, is that in freeing ourselves from the nightmarish legacy of our genetic past we might choose to enjoy a lifetime of raw, all-consuming orgasmic bliss. This bliss needn't be directed at any well-defined intentional objects. We - or more likely our robot-serviced descendants - wouldn't be ecstatic about anything in particular. Our nature would be constitutionally ecstatic. Genetically pre-programmed euphoria would be as natural and inevitable as breathing. We would simply be happy about being happy.

The defining image here, perhaps, is the notional human counterpart of the experimenter's lever-pressing rat. Electrodes can be implanted directly into the mind/brain's pleasure centres. These lie in the meso-limbic dopamine system, the core of the brain's reward circuitry. It extends from the ventral tegmentum to the nucleus accumbens, with projections to the limbic system and orbitofrontal cortex. Notoriously, the wired rat will indulge in frenzied bouts of intra-cranial self-stimulation for days on end. The experience is so wonderful that it takes precedence over food and sleep. It's preferred even to sex. The rat doesn't need to undergo a contrasting "low" to appreciate the "high". The little bundle of joy is apparently incapable of becoming bored with, or physiologically tolerant to, the rodent equivalent of Heaven.

Such animalistic images are unedifying to all but the most unabashed hedonist. Yet more subtly-engineered human counterparts of the euphoric rat are perfectly feasible. Centuries hence, any pleasure-maximising ecstatics will be using their personal freedom to exercise what is, in a utilitarian sense, a legitimate life-style choice.

The "wirehead" option, however, will be only one item taken from a very large menu. Unfortunately, it is also the most easily visualised. So the spectre of perpetual intra-cranial self-stimulation can easily be taken, wrongly, to symbolise the whole approach that The Hedonistic Imperative represents. The desperate ethical urgency that underlies this manifesto's proposals may thus too easily be dismissed. For humans, as we are solemnly reminded, are not rats.

0.4 Life In Dopaminergic Overdrive.
An important point to stress in the discussion to follow is that many dopamine-driven states of euphoria can actually enhance motivated, goal-directed behaviour in general. Enhanced dopamine function makes one's motivation to act stronger, not weaker. Hyper-dopaminergic states tend also to increase the range of activities an organism finds worth pursuing. Outside the pleasure-laboratory, such states of necessity focus on countless different intentional objects. So humanity's future as envisaged in this manifesto is not, or certainly not just, an eternity spent enraptured on elixirs of super-soma or tanked up on high-octane pleasure-machines. Nor is it plausible that posterity will enjoy only the dullish, opiated sensibility of the heroin addict. Instead, an extraordinarily fertile range of purposeful and productive activities will most likely be pursued. Better still, our descendants, and in principle perhaps even our elderly selves, will have the chance to enjoy modes of experience we primitives cruelly lack. For on offer are sights more majestically beautiful, music more deeply soul-stirring, sex more exquisitely erotic, mystical epiphanies more awe-inspiring, and love more profoundly intense than anything we can now properly comprehend.

I shall first schematically set out how a naturalistic, secular paradise of effectively everlasting happiness is biotechnically feasible. Second, I will argue why its realisation is instrumentally rational and ethically mandatory. Third, I will offer a sketch of when and why such a scenario is likely to come to pass in some guise or other. And, finally, I shall try to anticipate some of the most common if not always cogent objections that the prospect of psychochemical nirvana is likely to arouse, and attempt to defuse them.

(define (foo a)
(if (= a 10) ( ( ) ) (foo (display (+ a 1))))

(this is only the intro, posting ch1 made slashcode overflow so STFU if you want to read it search with teh googl tnx


Re:heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6627352)

"Fap fap fap"

Forget what what the glove says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6627601)

... I'd be more concerned with the electrocution risk . Then again, a USB connection might only have enough voltage to cause tingling.

Then again, maybe I just better drop the whole topic and crawl back under my rock.

I can see it now... (4, Funny)

WildFire42 (262051) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625182)

/me flips you the bird.
/me's glove attempts to translate it as "Eagle".
/me's glove BSOD's.


Congo (0)

aplank (678451) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625243)

Micheal Criton the gorilla had a glove that did the same thing.

Re:Congo (0)

aplank (678451) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625269)

The book Congo by Micheal criton had a gorilla that had a glove. Had to clarify because i messed up the copy and paste on the other post.

Re:Congo (1)

Deflagro (187160) | more than 11 years ago | (#6627077)

Also the name is Michael Crichton. I still blame the copy n paste. ;)

not sure how easy this would be... (4, Insightful)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625315)

ASL (and other sign languages) aren't just word-for-word translations of Englis (and other spoken languages); they are true languages with their own unique grammar. Any attempt at an on-the-fly translation would, it seems to me, result in a muddle that would make the Babelfish sound like Shakespeare.


Re:not sure how easy this would be... (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625818)

True enough, especially given that interpreting ASL depends on many factors other than hand position (speed, intensity, facial gestures, etc.) Much of that, however, can be communicated effectively even to non-ASL speakers, and serves to enhance a Babelfish-esque translation.

Just as Babelfish gives me at least a rough idea of what an article in another language says, it would be a substantial boon to an ASL speaker to be able to get at least the gist across to somebody who doesn't speak ASL. And unlike Babelfish, which I only have to use occasionally, most ASL users must communicate with non-deaf speakers essentially every single day.

Re:not sure how easy this would be... (4, Informative)

hcetSJ (672210) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625917)

That's where the Rosetta Stone method could be helpful. A word-for-word translation might be stilted, but by comparing entire sentences, a system might learn that one idiom in one language translates (loosely, at least) to another idiom or phrase in the other.

Re:not sure how easy this would be... (2, Interesting)

DenialX (597010) | more than 11 years ago | (#6642489)

Not a chance...For those that use ASL it is not uncommon for new words concepts and images to be created to express an idea. Almost all of the grammer is facial expression and without it the message is completely different. ASL is not mearly about words like english but more like mental pictures capable of expressing thoughts, emotions, and indepth ideas. It truely is its own lanugage. If you had two gloves, and a way to monitor eyes and face movements it might work. Other wise its simply an English Trasnlation. Deaf people in the US use ASL and only sign english when to communicate to those who only know the English signs and don't speak there language.

Re:not sure how easy this would be... (2, Insightful)

mattlary (595947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6626455)

There are different types of Sign Language, even within the United States. For example: the sign language which you see interpreters using is not necessarily the same 'dialect' Deaf people use when talking to eachother. The type which interpreters use is much easier to interpret into English than the ASL that Deaf people use.

As far as Grammar goes, the grammatical structure of Sign Language is much simpler than that of English and other languages. The biggest grammatical difference would be word order. For example- you may say, "I posted to Slashdot last week". Literally signed, this may be "I Posted slashdot week last".

In any case, this is a great step towards independence for Deaf people in a hearing world.

Re:not sure how easy this would be... (2, Insightful)

mph (7675) | more than 11 years ago | (#6627598)

The signer may, however, be able to adapt to the limitations of the device, just as I simplify my English when speaking to someone who does not understand the language well.

Re:not sure how easy this would be... (2, Interesting)

Mr_Icon (124425) | more than 11 years ago | (#6628702)

I wonder if it would make more sense for them to concentrate on Signed English instead of ASL. It's pushed strongly in schools these days anyway, and it follows the precise grammar and structure of spoken English, vs. ASL, which has its own grammar and relies heavily on facial expressions and spatial relations.

Many educators feel that ASL creates many problems for young children, who grow up signing in ASL grammar, and then go to school where they effectively have to re-learn their language in order to be able to read and write. If in English the phrase is "My father gave me these books yesterday" the ASL speaker would sign "My father (point at some position, usually to the right) give (from the position where previously pointed towards oneself) book book past day (point to where your spatial "father" is again)".

Signed English was designed to compensate for this, though the end result is that signing in SE is rather more tedious, as one has to sign out all a-an-the's, prefixes, and suffixes. Among the benefits, though, is that is't much easier to talk and sign in SE than in ASL, since you don't have to concentrate on translating from one grammar to another. This is particularly useful for teachers who have a class of both deaf and hearing children.

Yes, IAASET (I am a Special Education Teacher. :)).

Wrong Product (2, Informative)

patch-rustem (641321) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625331)

"I want to produce something that deaf people can use in everyday life," he said.

Don't get me wrong, mod me down if you want, I'm sure he's tried his best, but isn't this the wrong invention. My experience working with people with impaired hearing is that their speech is fine. It's hearing that they have a problem with.

A glove that translated other peoples speech into sign language would be much more useful.

Re:Wrong Product (-1, Troll)

Tirel (692085) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625466)

not to mention they might forget to put their glove off while masturbating.

i can just hear it now

"fish. car. fish. car. fish. car. fish. car..fis..c.f..c..f.. biscutt"


deaf people masturbating

now thats a sick thought

if i were an editor i would just ban me for posting such crap on slashdot

counterproductive (1)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625368)

This will make my hand talk to me?

Hell, you might as well get married.

sounds familiar (1)

divbyzero (23176) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625379)

Ah, the memories... I did a similar project in college, building a sensor glove which translated tonic sol-fa (music sign language) into MIDI using a Basic Stamp embedded processor. Worked rather well, actually.

The other half of my project was to do the same thing using video recognition, which is also mentioned in the linked article. I used the built-in camera of an SGI, and a nice fuzzy logic matching algorithm.

Take the glove off when you're looking at pr0n!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6625386)

Greetings Professor Falken
Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh Uh !!!!!

Gotta love it (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625528)

High-tech solution to a low-tech problem. /pen and paper (you'll need it anyway unless they read lips)

Re:Gotta love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6631504)

This sign language is so ancient even apes can do it: it's a natural for us, humans.

Now, regarding writing, I can't do it right anymore after I started this keyboard thingy... And I never learned to type properly with all fingers! Doh!

Two decades of VR Gloves, with nothing to show (2, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625647)

It seems like the VR glove concept appears over and over again, but never seems to "click". I remember the Nintendo Power Glove [] from the late '80s - early '90s -- for the original NES. If it had been such a hit with the gaming community, why wasn't there a N64 and GameCube version?

And outside gaming, the idea comes and just as quickly goes. Here's an article about tele-medicine using VR gloves [] , where someone at location A pushes on your abdomen and a doctor at location B "feels" whether your spleen is out of joint. The date on the article... July, 2000. Going nowhere.

And here's a telling statement from the referenced article:
Although there is more work to be done with the AcceleGlove, Hernandez-Rebollar is not sure if he will have the necessary financial support to continue his research after his dissertation.
Something is making it darned difficult to bring VR Glove technology to fruition, despite almost two decades of poking around with it.

What's the "killer app" that will have us all putting on our V-Gloves?

Re:Two decades of VR Gloves, with nothing to show (2, Informative)

divbyzero (23176) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625862)

Actually those old, originally inexpensive Power Gloves now fetch fairly high prices on the used market because they are in such high demand for projects like these, and there is no current off-the-shelf product at the same price point. I ended up having to build my own out of a bicycling glove, some accelerometers, and switches. You're right that they never caught on in the mass market, but they're great for academics and hobbyists.

Re:Two decades of VR Gloves, with nothing to show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6649830)

I was under the impression that Jaron Lanier's patent was the main reason the gloves never caught on in the mass market.

Facial Expressions (3, Interesting)

DarkRecluse (231992) | more than 11 years ago | (#6625890)

ASL is as much about facial expressions and body language as it is leave them out is to confuse the meaning of the sign, often completely. Everything is very emotionally charged.

I would suggest that more people learn sign, because if nothing else it will help them to become more expressive individuals.

Re:Facial Expressions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6626095)

I would suggest that more people learn sign, because if nothing else it will help them to become more expressive individuals.
Yes, because that's going to happen.

Re:Facial Expressions (1)

DarkRecluse (231992) | more than 11 years ago | (#6628210)

You see, I can't tell if that's sarcasm or not because I can't see your face. So I just have to assume that because you posted anonymously, you are an asshole and you meant it sarcastically.

Now I am giving you the finger and you can't see how intensely I am doing so.

Should everybody sign? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 11 years ago | (#6668458)

Besides which, it's a beautiful form of communication. One of these days...

On development I find intriguing: claims that babies can learn to sign before they can learn to talk [] . Which is cool if it help loving parents bond with and begin educating their kinds more quickly. Not so cool if it becomes yet another for overcompetitive parents to put their kids on the achievement treadmill too early.

Beyond 2000 (1)

frantzdb (22281) | more than 11 years ago | (#6626084)

...or was it Next Step? Either way, I saw this idea on the Discovery chanel probably 8 years ago. At that point they said the computer hardware wasn't fast enough yet.

This is the first time I can remember one of the inventions on those shows actually coming to light. Cool. Those hours in front of the TV weren't wasted afterall.


Old news... (2, Interesting)

failrate (583914) | more than 11 years ago | (#6626711)

I remember seeing this glove on TV when I was a kid. Back then, all it could do was spell in sign language, so this is a definite step up. As far as *gaming* goes, don't tell me that y'all have forgotten the Nintendo Powerglove!

minority report (2, Interesting)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 11 years ago | (#6626854)

(I can't find a reference to this. not even on a level 2, instead of the usual level 4 comment level.)

Perhaps someone might make a new computer interface with it. Something like seen in the movie minority report, staring Tom Cruise.
Perhaps it already exist, i don't know.
But I would sure try it. I find it annoying that I always have to switch towards a mouse for certain tasks.
Hopefully it reduces RSI.
But as with everything, it depends on the design.

It can replace keyboard and mouse.
It can be used in places where you can't talk vs speech control.
It can replace a touch-screen in certain circumstances.
It could be used with a pen or a blackboard, provided it can learn your movements when writing and transfer your written words into a digital form.

Who knows, with nanotech we discards the globe and build it into our hands.
Ho, well. Your imagination/memory is as good as mine.

Mr. Holland's Opus (1)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 11 years ago | (#6627375)

Did anyone else immediately think of the scene from Mr. Hollands Opus where the deaf/mute kid signs "Asshole" to his (asshole-of-a-) Dad?


Re:Mr. Holland's Opus (1, Interesting)

I Like Swords!!! (668399) | more than 11 years ago | (#6642138)

He wasn't really deaf, just damn near deaf, nor was he mute as he spoke as any person with similar hearing problems would. Good movie it was. Now, having seen the glove on TechTV, I could only imagine strapping TWO of those things on. I'd feel like a cyborg. Add some facial sensors to incorporate expressions into the system.... almost sounds like borg garments... o.O

Now where did that come from... -_- I need some sleep. Yes.

Hands are only half of the language... (3, Informative)

Garridan (597129) | more than 11 years ago | (#6627521)

I studied ASL for 2 years... there's a helluva lot more to the language than hands... and much of the language would be impossible to translate with a computer.

Facial expression is nearly as important as the hands. "should" and "need" are the same sign, with a slight difference in the shape of the mouth. Its like trying to understand somebody who enunciates poorly, speaks in monotone, and doesn't pause between words or sentences...

A lot of the language relies on physical description... there's no way a computer could interpret a lot of it.

At best, this will be able to translate "SEE", or Signed Exact English. Not ASL. There's a HUGE difference. ASL is as different from English as sculpture is different from music.

Really old news (2, Interesting)

Unknown Kadath (685094) | more than 11 years ago | (#6628023)

My parents used to tape a program on public television called Discover: The World of Science, presumably related to the magazine. Peter Graves hosted it, and my folks would stick one of the tapes in the VCR to keep me amused when I was being difficult.

The format was a series of 15-20 minute pieces on various neat pieces of science, and I distinctly remeber a segement about a "talking glove." It was a mechanical hand on a small stand with a keyboard and Hawking-esque voice synthesizer, and a glove wired with electrodes. When someone typed into the keyboard, the hand would fingerspell whatever was being typed. When a person wearing the glove fingerspelled something, the voice would read it out, a la Mac SimpleText (anyone else get in trouble with that in school when it first came out?) The system had to be trained to recognize someone's fingerspelling. They showed a deaf and blind woman going out shopping with the system, not needing an interpreter.

Based on the hairstyles I remember from the program and my age at the time, this would have been in the mid to late 80's. I have no way of proving I'm not making this up, of course.


ASL Translator (2, Informative)

penguin_bear (644991) | more than 11 years ago | (#6629278)

American Sign Language also includes hundreds of gestures that express single words and simple sentences, but most require two hands.
He said the device usually is accurate, though the precision declines with complicated movements; for example, words that start with the same hand movement or orientation.

Though not an expert on signlanguage by any means, I do remember learning about ASL as a grammatically complete language, i.e. that it was not merely a series of words but used some forms of particles and has a full grammar (strict syntax and temporal expressions) Also, as far as I recall, this slight variation in the complexity of the signing accounts for such important distinctions as time and space as well as who the actor was or whom it concerned. These kinds of kinks would need to be ironed out significantly if emergency information is to be conveyed accurately. However, the AcceleGlove is not a new technology that would simply be useful for deaf people in emergency situations. The ability to communicate through hand gestures could also be used to teach ASL, along with being modified for use in virtual reality, military settings, and in different forms of sign language.

These ideas are interesting (and better conveyed in the GWU arcile!)

Maybe I'm just reluctant to believe someone has created a translator for a language when he has merely translated a small set of words. You don't learn to speak (or sign) a language by learning words. As in any language its either inflection or word order that lends meaning (among other things)- how should the meaning of a signed phrase be any more clear just by knowing what the individual words mean...

But even sign-lang's for English are incompatible. (1)

ivi (126837) | more than 11 years ago | (#6630302)

Remember the book "Train Go Sorry" (about the
deaf community, eg with some -declining- sur-
gery that would give them the power to hear)?

Why? Something about nurturing their deaf
community, ie as something special & unique,
just as valid & worth preserving as, say a
particular & special species of whale, et al.

Seems a bit like members of the Open Source
Movement declining to load any flavor of
Windows (or other proprietary software) onto
their computers.

(Also a bit like Fahrenheit 451's community
of people who declined to give up great works
of poetry, literature (ie books), that were
prepared to live apart - if they had - just
to keep their traditions (& forbidden books)
alive, so that they could be passed to the
next generation.)

Back to Sign Language:

Too bad that folks who speak only / primarily
(typically -one- flavor of) Sign Language
-still- have barriers to communication with
many of their contemporaries, who happen to
know -another- one [ie, their local] elsewhere
in the world.

And, this applies to English-based sign lan-
uages (AusLan in Australia is incompatible
with its US counterpart, et al.).

The effect is unfortunately akin to "divide &
conquer" where international organisation of
deaf communities is seriously limited, -or-
more likely to be in the hands of non-deaf
people, who may or may not represent the
interests of the deaf communities' majorities.

Have we got a cool techie solution that looks
after the interests of deaf peoples' needs &
desires to build bridges between geographi-
cally &/or Sign Language divided communities?

Or are our "innovations" (such as the one
that speaks "Out Loud" - not very helpful to
a deaf person) just designed for us, or maybe
to support -surveillence- by of deaf people
and/or their communitiesHomeland Security?

Let's try to build tools that bridge gaps
not just toys that might be misused here.

My 2 cents... ;-)

Re:But even sign-lang's for English are incompatib (1)

PsychoI3oy (237745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6630504)

+5 insightful, now i'm sorry i used my mod points up already.

the easiest way to see if this is something useful for the non-hearing/speaking community is to ask them. i agree with your point that most people in certain situations don't see it as a disability or hinderance in day-to-day life, it's just part of life and who they are. along the same line of thinking, i have mixed feelings about documentaries or special clips on the news saluting people 'living with such a hard problem' or whatever. they get along alright, they don't have a problem with their difference, and when it comes down to it, every person in the world has his or her own difficulty in life (mine and probably a good chunk of the /. crowd's being face to face people skills), but we don't see news spots about the 28 year old geek living in his mom's basement overcoming obstacles and going out and getting a non-tech job and having his own apartment and enjoying his city's night life, do we? nor do you see anyone engineering any sort of chip or device to help people with problems like that. all that being said, i think it's cool that someone is thinking about helping another community 'fit in' better with the 'rest of us' but (as technologically cool as it is, and i hope it gets developed for other uses like computer games/operations) a poll of said community might indicate better what they want from 'us' to feel more a 'part of the crowd'.

Anyone remember? (1)

r00k123 (588214) | more than 11 years ago | (#6630592)

"Just keep your her."

like speaking with just your tongue (1)

soundofthemoon (623369) | more than 11 years ago | (#6637017)

A huge percentage of ASL is non-manual (I forget the percentage, but I think it's over 30%). Facial expression can completely change the meaning of a sentence. If you make exactly the same signs but shake your head, you've negated the meaning. Or if you say something but raise your eyebrows you turn it into a yes/no question. Distance is communicated with head tilt, size with the mouth, and some signs change depending on if you stick out your tongue. So it's not just a question of idiom, but a significant amount of meaning. Much more than bablefish signal loss.

To give you an idea of how hard it is for even a fluent, bilingual, human speaker to translate ASL and English, let alone a machine, there isn't even a useful written form of ASL. Attempts at written forms of ASL all end up looking like pictograms of gestures, not symbolic representations. The information density is very high in comparison to written language, because the visual channel is parallel. Experiments show ASL can communicate spatial information in 1/3 the time of spoken language, and it's very fast for other kinds of information as well. Classifiers (iconographic descriptors) and spatial reference pronouns rock.

By the way, I don't know how the inventor signed "I'll help you" with one hand (RTFA). That's a two-handed sign. (Note that it's a single sign. The sign for the verb "help" is inflected, so it always includes a subject and object as part of the gesture, indicating them by positional reference.)

Adding whole new meaning to... (1)

Cruel Angel (676514) | more than 11 years ago | (#6638053)

... talk to the hand

very last post, i suck (1)

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