Scientists Test Sign Language On Smartphones

Researchers have developed a new mobile tool set to allow people with hearing impairments to communicate over a smartphone device American Sign Language.

News agency Reuters reports that researchers at the University of Washington have developed a tool which could allow deaf people to communicate via low-bandwidth video conferencing using American Sign Language.

The tool would make use of the front facing cameras found on some recently launched smartphones, such as Apple's iPhone 4 and HTC's Evo 4G, to let users communicate using ASL.

The tool is designed to use extremely low bandwidth and provide visual clarity around the hands and face at the same time.

Jessica Tran, a member of the research team which developed the mobile tool, said in a statement: “The point is to provide real-time video cellular communication for deaf people. We are able to send video over both 3G and Wi-Fi networks at a very low bit rate."

Currently people with hearing impairments use PC video conferencing to communicate using ASL, or use their mobile phones to send text messages, which have their own limitations as users are not easily able to express their emotions.