Smartphone users with impaired hearing could soon find it easier to use a mobile phone thanks to the development of sign language technology that could be integrated into future handsets.
Researchers at the University of Washington have already completed the development of an electronic product that can transmit sign language in the American standard using the existing mobile networking infrastructure.
The researchers claim that they have squeezed down the data requirements to an acceptable 30Kbps for standard sign language calls whilst actually enhancing the quality of the device's camera when it focuses on the subject's head and hands.
To prevent excessive battery consumption, the MobileASL device does not continually broadcast throughout the conversation, but only when it automatically picks up on the fact that the user is signing.
11 test subjects are working with the MobileASL devices to make calls as they go about their daily lives, with their actions and experiences monitored and analysed by the team.
Engineer Eve Riskin stated: "We know these phones work in a lab setting, but conditions are different in people's everyday lives.
"The field study is an important step toward putting this technology into practice."
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