25 years old Roy Allela, invented smart gloves which are able to convert sign language movements into automated audio speech. The gloves, named Sign-IO, have five sensors stitched on to each finger which interpret the word being signed from the bend of the finger. Mr Allela says he was inspired by the need to communicate with his 6-year-old niece who was born deaf.
Roy Allela, a technology evangelist, says the need to communicate with his 6-year-old niece, who was born deaf, inspired him to build the technology. Mr Allela is among 16 young Africans who have been nominated by The Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for inventors from six countries to receive funding, training and mentoring for projects intended to revolutionize sectors from agriculture and science to women’s health.
The winner will be awarded Sh3.2 million (£25,000) while each of the three runners up will receive Sh1.2 million (£10,000).
According to Allela, his niece encountered difficulties while communicating with members of her family since none of them is conversant with sign language.
“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing and I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” says Allela.
Allela said the speed at which the signs are vocalized is one of the most important aspects of the smart gloves.
“People speak at different speeds and it’s the same with people who sign – some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use it,” he said.