At the University of California San Diego engineers have developed a low-cost electronic glove capable of understanding sign language. A user simply puts it on and can sign away, with the glove wirelessly transmitting what it’s interpreting to another device to be read out or for the words to appear on a screen. The cost of all the parts comes out to less than $100, including the printed stretchable electronic sensors that are attached to the top of the fingers.
The sensors are made of a silicon polymer with a stripe of electrically conductive carbon paint on top of it. The combination is flexible without being brittle, the sensors maintaining their integrity while detecting when they’re flexed based on changes in electrical resistance.
The team dubbed the device “The Language of Glove,” and while it may be useful for deaf people, the investigators envision it having other applications such as practicing surgery within virtual reality and maybe to be used as surgical gloves that can be simultaneously employed to control medical devices without breaking sterility. They’re also hoping to embed touch sensors into the fingertips of the glove to give it even more capabilities.