VIRAL: Electrical engineering students create smart gloves to give voice to the speech-impaired

Published July 2, 2021, 10:41 AM

by Noel Pabalate

And they say it’s not a copy of existing gloves invented years ago

A group of college students at Camarines Sur Polytechnic College went viral on Facebook last June 28, 2021, for their wearable tech invention: gloves that can convert Filipino sign languages into voice speech in real time.

The team, composed of graduating electrical engineering students Francis Anthony B. de Guzman, Rency G. De La Cruz, Joana Renz G. Jimenez, Klenn Arvin V. Alcibor, and Maria Andrea N. Moran shared on Facebook how their invention works.

Francis, the team leader of the group, explained that the prototype gloves have flex sensors for the finger movement and MPU-6050 microchips for the angular rotation of the hand. The data of hand signs will be sent via wifi to a computer for processing using a machine learning model which would then convert it into audio through a speaker.

The team started developing the gloves for their thesis in 2020. “When we were conceptualizing the project, we thought of something that could be a great help to many. Then, we came up with the idea of the sign language gloves. Also, my brother shared some ideas on how we can do it. So from there, we did intensive research and studies,” Francis tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.

“As of the moment, it can only convert the words shown in the video,” continues Francis. “It’s not yet fully functional but we have plans to do further research on how we can improve the gloves. So we’re studying lots of possibilities for the device.”

Team leader Francis Anthony B. de Guzman demonstrates how their smart gloves work

Upon researching, Francis admitted that they have discovered that similar technology existed years ago. “Our idea came first before we saw a glove that can convert sign language into text while researching. But even if there’s an existing similar device, we’ve relied on our own skills, developed our own techniques, and used our own processor and algorithm in creating the gloves,” Francis clarifies.

The group hasn’t come up with a name yet for their innovation. But according to Francis, they will continue the project because they saw how useful the device is, especially for the deaf-mute community that gave them good feedback.

Meanwhile, the young inventors would like to dedicate the success of their thesis to one of their former members, Reik Mark Tandaan, who unfortunately already passed away last year.

Going through different challenges, the group can never be prouder that in the near future they will also be able to give voice to those who have speech disabilities. Although it might not be credited as an original invention, the important thing to these young inventors is that their thesis entitled “Filipino Sign Language to Voice Converter” could someday bridge the gap or eliminate barriers between sign language speakers and those who speak with words.