Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Can You See Me Now?' Sign Language Over Cell Phones Comes To United States

Date:
August 25, 2008
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
A group has demonstrated software that for the first time enables deaf and hard of hearing Americans to use sign language over a mobile phone.

Doctoral student Anna Cavender, who learned sign language after joining the MobileASL group, demonstrates the device. Users can hold the phone in front of them and sign with one hand but most prefer to set the phone on a table and sign with both hands.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington

A group at the University of Washington has developed software that for the first time enables deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans to use sign language over a mobile phone. UW engineers got the phones working together this spring, and recently received a National Science Foundation grant for a 20-person field project that will begin next year in Seattle.

This is the first time two-way real-time video communication has been demonstrated over cell phones in the United States. Since posting a video of the working prototype on YouTube, deaf people around the country have been writing on a daily basis.

"A lot of people are excited about this," said principal investigator Eve Riskin, a UW professor of electrical engineering.

For mobile communication, deaf people now communicate by cell phone using text messages. "But the point is you want to be able to communicate in your native language," Riskin said. "For deaf people that's American Sign Language."

Video is much better than text-messaging because it's faster and it's better at conveying emotion, said Jessica DeWitt, a UW undergraduate in psychology who is deaf and is a collaborator on the MobileASL project. She says a large part of her communication is with facial expressions, which are transmitted over the video phones.

Low data transmission rates on U.S. cellular networks, combined with limited processing power on mobile devices, have so far prevented real-time video transmission with enough frames per second that it could be used to transmit sign language. Communication rates on United States cellular networks allow about one tenth of the data rates common in places such as Europe and Asia (sign language over cell phones is already possible in Sweden and Japan).

Even as faster networks are becoming more common in the United States, there is still a need for phones that would operate on the slower systems.

"The faster networks are not available everywhere," said doctoral student Anna Cavender. "They also cost more. We don't think it's fair for someone who's deaf to have to pay more for his or her cell phone than someone who's hearing."

The team tried different ways to get comprehensible sign language on low-resolution video. They discovered that the most important part of the image to transmit in high resolution is around the face. This is not surprising, since eye-tracking studies have already shown that people spend the most time looking at a person's face while they are signing.

The current version of MobileASL uses a standard video compression tool to stay within the data transmission limit. Future versions will incorporate custom tools to get better quality. The team developed a scheme to transmit the person's face and hands in high resolution, and the background in lower resolution. Now they are working on another feature that identifies when people are moving their hands, to reduce battery consumption and processing power when the person is not signing.

The team is currently using phones imported from Europe, which are the only ones they could find that would be compatible with the software and have a camera and video screen located on the same side of the phone so that people can film themselves while watching the screen.

Mobile video sign language won't be widely available until the service is provided through a commercial cell-phone manufacturer, Riskin said. The team has already been in discussion with a major cellular network provider that has expressed interest in the project.

The MobileASL team includes Richard Ladner, a UW professor of computer science and engineering; Sheila Hemami, a professor of electrical engineering at Cornell University; Jacob Wobbrock, an assistant professor in the UW's Information School; UW graduate students Neva Cherniavsky, Jaehong Chon and Rahul Vanam; and Cornell graduate studentFrank Ciaramello.

More details on the MobileASL project are at http://mobileasl.cs.washington.edu/index.html. A video demonstration is posted at http://youtube.com/watch?v=FaE1PvJwI8E.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "'Can You See Me Now?' Sign Language Over Cell Phones Comes To United States." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080821164609.htm>.
University of Washington. (2008, August 25). 'Can You See Me Now?' Sign Language Over Cell Phones Comes To United States. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080821164609.htm
University of Washington. "'Can You See Me Now?' Sign Language Over Cell Phones Comes To United States." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080821164609.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Rumored To Introduce Song ID Service In Next iOS Build

Apple Rumored To Introduce Song ID Service In Next iOS Build

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) Sources close to Apple told Bloomberg the company plans to introduce an integrated song identification service during the launch of its next iOS. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) According to SEC filings, Yahoo gave ousted COO Henrique de Castro a $58 million severance package. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins