A Germany company is developing a technology that may help deaf-blind people send and receive text messages. The glove device, developed by Germany’s Design Research Lab, is called the Mobile Lorm Glove. The technology basically allows the deaf-blind to decipher incoming text messages by converting texts into speech. The gadget works through tactile feedback to resolve the limits of the touch language sign alphabet known as Lorm. Separately, touch specialist Synaptics is working on technologies that will allow touchscreens to mimic the feel of a physical keypad, in order to make smartphones easier to use.
Whereas the alphabet allocates characters to different parts of the hand, it limits communication only to individuals knowledgeable on its use and within physical contact. The new technology solves these limitations by translating the alphabet into digital text, or digital text back into the Lorm alphabet. To create words and sentences, deaf-blind users leverage the glove’s textile pressure sensors located throughout the palm of the glove. The sensors correspond to the Lorm alphabet. The device could potentially help the deaf-blind read e-books.
When a user receives an incoming message, small vibrators located on the back of the glove translate the messages into vibrations. The Lorm is then translated into text speech via the smart phone. A Bluetooth module is used for communication between the hand and the smart phone. Data from the glove is transmitted to the deaf-blind user’s hand and forwarded onto the receiver’s phone as a text message. On the same breadth, when a user receives an incoming message, it is transmitted to the glove via Bluetooth. Separately, Nokia is envisioning a future in which magnetic tattoos will alert Smartphone owners of incoming calls and texts.