A student team working with Google has come up with an ingenious way to translate signing into spoken word: electronic wristbands that measure the wearer's muscle activity, recognizing sign language symbols and speaking them through an Android device. It could quite literally give signers a voice.
Update: As it turns out, this concept is completely fictional. The film was done by advertising students and submitted to Future Lions in Cannes. The students are not, in fact, working with Google—though one student with the project says that Google indicates the technique is at least theoretically possible. We've updated this post to clarify that this is only a thought experiment and not a service that's being pursued by Google.
Students at the Berghs School of Communication in Sweden came up with the concept of Google Gesture as a way to enable signed conversation with those who don't use sign language. The signer wears two electronic wristbands which measure arm position and read the nerve impulses of the hand and arm muscles to recognize sign gestures. The bands send this information to an Android app, which translates the signs using the phone's voice.
As shown in the team's video demonstration, the results could be remarkable.
Already, the student developers have won an award from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for their work. Maybe someday, speech recognition could reach far beyond the spoken word. [Berghs School of Communication via Mashable]