Verizon Innovative App Challenge 2015-2016 – LanguaSign (Best-in-State)

Verizon Innovative App Challenge 2015-2016 – LanguaSign (Best-in-State)

October 19, 2019 3 By Peter Engel


Hey, hey, hey. Do you know where I can find the nearest… *audio cuts out* You can’t, understand, uh, eh I don’t- I don’t have time for this. Permiso, senora, sabes si se puede usar la pileta…*audio cuts out* (angry) Me estas cargando. There are
over 70 million people throughout the world that use some sort of sign language as their
primary communication. Without communication, people have a hard time properly fitting in
to their social and professional environments. There are a few apps created to address the
needs of the deaf community, but a large majority of these apps focus on translation between
English and the American Sign Language. Unknown to most, there are over 130 distinct sign
languages used throughout the world today, but 120 or so of them are virtually excluded
from apps. And, even for apps that address the few most popular sign languages, they
only work from text to sign. There is no translator app that translates from sign language to
written text. The smartphone app concept we have created is LanguaSign, a universal translator app. It includes the standard language translator used today for spoken languages, with the
addition of the numerous sign languages of the world. The general use of the app would
go like this: a deaf user needs to communicate with a non-deaf user. The non-deaf user types
in what he or she needs to say, and that text is translated to the deaf user’s written language
and pictures or videos of their sign language. Wait a second; why would videos of the person’s
sign language need to be shown if they can just read the written form of their country’s language? Sign and written languages are very different grammatically. Why are sign and written
languages so different? Signs work more visually, while writing is more word-for-word. That’s
why it’s hard for some deaf people to learn written languages and it’s better to use sign
language grammar. That’s why we’re showing video in addition to text. Here’s a scenario:
Anton is a German deaf person who has used German Sign Language his entire life. A non-deaf,
English-speaking person needs to communicate with him. Anton pulls out LanguaSign. The
English person types in what she needs to say, and the German text and German Sign Language
videos are displayed for Anton. When Anton needs to communicate, LanguaSign would include three different forms of input for deaf users. If they know it, they can simply type in their
spoken language. If not, they can type in the written form of their sign language’s
grammar to be specifically translated to the proper form of their spoken language’s grammar,
and further to any language or other sign language of their choice. The primary input
for LanguaSign would come in the form of video; the deaf users would pick their sign language
from the app’s list and calibrate their hands with the camera by placing them in front of
the screen, and would then slowly and methodically sign out their sentences. The video would
be analyzed and translated into text. This app would serve as an enormous improvement
in the lives of the deaf. This app not only allows them to communicate with hearing people
but also other deaf people who use different sign languages. People who speak with sign
language that do not know standard written grammar can learn to more easily fit into
the “hearing” professional world by using LanguaSign, enabling them to communicate the way they want with the rest of the hearing, sound-filled world.