A team of innovators at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Jodhpur has developed low-cost ‘Talking Gloves’ for people with speech disabilities, announced on Monday.
The device uses principles of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to automatically generate speech that will be language-independent and facilitate communication between mute people and normal people.
It can also help individuals to convert hand gestures into text or pre-recorded voices. Hence, it makes a differently-abled person independent and communicates the message effectively. The institutes said the device costs less than Rs 5,000 in a statement.
“The language-independent speech generation device will bring people back to the mainstream in today’s global era without any language barrier. Users of the device only need to learn once and they would be able to verbally communicate in any language with their knowledge,” said Prof Sumit Kalra, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Jodhpur in a statement.
“Additionally, the device can be customized to produce a voice similar to the original voice of the patients which makes it appear more natural while using the device,” he added.
The device with in-built sensors can be worn on both hands, and it generates electrical signals due to hand movements, which are then received at a signal processing unit.
The magnitude of the received electrical signals is compared with a plurality of pre-defined combinations of magnitudes stored in a memory by using the signal processing unit. By using AI and ML algorithms, these combinations of signals are then translated into phonetics corresponding to at least one consonant and a vowel.
For example, the consonant and the vowel can be from Hindi language phonetics. A phonetic is assigned to the received electrical signals based on the comparison.
An audio signal is then generated by an audio transmitter corresponding to the assigned phonetic and based on trained data associated with vocal characteristics stored in a machine learning unit.
The generation of audio signals according to phonetics having a combination of vowels and consonants leads to the generation of speech and enables mute people to audibly communicate with others. The speech synthesis technique of the present subject matter uses phonetics; therefore, speech generation is independent of any language.
The team is further working to enhance the features such as durability, weight, responsiveness, and ease-of-use, of the developed device.
The developed product will be commercialized through a start-up incubated by IIT Jodhpur.