Mobile sign language

A team at the University of Washington has developed software that enables people to communicate in sign language via cell phones in the USA, according to ScienceDaily. The system transmits the face and hands in higher definition than other parts of the video, which reduces the bandwidth needed and will work on US cell phones and networks, which have lower data transmission rates than those in Europe and Asia. They are also working on a way to recognise when a person isn’t signing to reduce the processing power needed. So soon ASL users will be able to sign to each other over their phone, rather than having to rely on texting.

Such systems are already available in Japan and parts of Europe.

Do any of you use sign language on your mobile/cell phone, or do you know anyone who does?

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This entry was posted in Language, Sign language, Technology.

7 Responses to Mobile sign language

  1. Eric Lee says:

    I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work :)

  2. Ben Bobls says:

    I don’t have this technology available to me, but as a hearing signer with many Deaf friends this would be awesome to have. It might get more people interested in ASL or other sign languages. I’ve noticed that most people don’t give nearly as much credit to ASL as they do to other “foreign” languages. Very sad. It really is a beautiful, fun, better than most other languages language.

  3. Ramses says:

    Bandwidth reducing technologies likes this are always great, because they help reducing the costs for the end user and so making it more widely available. I do know people who use cameraphones for sign language, but as most data plans here are flat-fee, they don’t care much about how long they’re ‘calling’ or how much bandwidth it takes.

    Still, the people who use cameraphones for the purpose are a minority. Most rely on text because they’re more used to it.

  4. TJ says:

    In fact I was wondering…though it sounds great but, if we have text and it is easier to do why do we have to sign over mobiles?

  5. Ben Boblis says:

    TJ, if you were in China (assuming you don’t know any Chinese language), how would you prefer to communicate with other English speakers: a) with broken Chinese, or b) in English. It’s the same with the Deaf. ASL is their language. Even if a Deaf person went to school/college for English, ASL is still their mother tongue. So being able to use ASL (or any other sign language for that matter) is letting them be able to communicate to their friends in their own language, and not have to rely on a 2nd language.

  6. TJ says:

    True.
    As for the question about being in China, I would use text msging as well and in English (even if my Chinese was good). That would depend on the receiver I would say. In my daily life I always use English with all types of receivers. Some of them are good in English and some of them are in the middle and some others are poor and here I have to use Arabic which gives me really a headache because I’m not used to the Arabic keyboard on my PDA. With my older mobile I couldn’t send Arabic sms’s because my OS on that mobile did not have Arabic language capabilities, but I could view Arabic sms. To tell you the truth that was kinda relief, because people knew that I don’t have Arabic sms capabilities and I can’t answer them back! :D Ah well, now everyone knows my PDA can send in Arabic.

    Back to the issue, I always use short terms because SMSs are supposed to be a fast way for communication and I don’t rely on grammar much! I’m not going to write a story you know! Just things like: r u rdy?, me out, OMW (on my way) and such stuff.
    If you happen to have any communicating device, a PDA or a mobile, and you can change tthe language from English into German for example, you’ll notice that the whole thing is abbreviated because, as it is known, the German language contains so many lengthy words!

    As for broken Chinese, I think it is still an option as long I can deliver the main idea of my request or so to the receiver, if I am sure he knows it. As Einstein said once… “It is all relativistic” !

  7. Jane says:

    James McElvenny and Aidan Wilson have been developing mobile phone dictionaries for some endangered Aboriginal languages, with sound files attached. It’s described in detail here:
    http://blogs.usyd.edu.au/elac/2008/07/mobile_phone_dictionaries.html
    But they haven’t yet got a way of embedding the dictionary so that you can do predictive texting with it – which would really improve its functionality.