Closing the Sign Language Gap in China

This blog is the first post in our series “Creating a Better Future: Stories of Intel’s Impact Around the World”.

In China, a shortage of sign language experts has caused a communications gap between deaf people and the hearing world. Deaf children are at an even greater disadvantage because there are so few people to teach them sign language in the first place.

A team of three engineering students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong used Intel technology to help bridge the gap. T Chan Chun Kit, Liu Ruifeng, and Shu Jianfei created a system that translates Chinese sign language into text and sound. 

Their project, the Chinese Sign Language Recognition and Translation System, won top honors at the 2012 Intel Cup Undergraduate Eletronic Design Contest—Embedded System Design Invitational Contest in Shanghai.

“Intel has a vision of using computer technology to connect and enrich lives, and this was a perfect example of applying that technology for a noble course,” says Jackson He, one of the Intel sponsors. “Applying computing technology to improve communication with disabled people is an invaluable effort.”

Using the Intel® Atom™ processor-based platform and Microsoft Kinect,* the team recorded the 3-D position of sign languages hand gestures, recognized them with learning-based techniques and then translated them into sound and text.

“During the course of the project we faced many difficult problems and solved them,” says T Chan Chun Kit, one of the student winners. “The Intel Cup taught us to persevere with what we believe and not to give up easily when facing difficulties.”