Where there are robots that have been widely used for industrial application and research purpose; there can be ways to use them in our everyday lives too. The self-governing robot guide for blind people or a robot that is used in the kitchen to assist the disabled people to cook food. And this one is the real robotic help to humankind which is a 3-D printed robotic arm that can perform primary sign language. It is a result of a thesis of masters level grad students at the University of Antwerp. These students were keen to address the needs of the deaf or hearing impaired folks. In their everyday life, such people often encounter the situations where they need the interpreters; that are not available every time. Be it a classroom, court or home, for interacting with other people they need some kind of assistance.
What’s this 3D-Printed Robotic Arm?
Now such folks can have their solution which is “Antwerp’s Sign Language Actuating Node,” or ASLAN. It is a 3D-printed robotic arm that is programmed to perform the sign language art; which includes its letters and numbers. This conceptual piece of tech was designed solely from scratch and made from 25 3D-printed parts plus 16 servos controlled by an Arduino board. It has edified gestures using a special glove. Moreover, the team is also thinking to incorporate a webcam to recognize them easily.
It Aims To Evolve More:
As of now, it is just a single robotic hand; that means two hands gestures and the indication from the facial expression is not possible at this moment. But, the team aims to build an emotive robotic face; and a second coordinating hand as part of their next projects. The concept was not to replace interpreters; as it is hard to replicate its nuance. But the idea was to introduce with an option globally to the people who are in need to get help from sign language. Also, it could teach the sign language; since the robot never gets tired of repeating the same gesture quite a lot of time so that you can learn; unlike humans.
Why Not Virtual?
The minute I first heard about this 3D-printed robotic arm, a question pops up in my mind; which why can it be a virtual hand assistance that can be used through a mobile app or any speech-to-text program could bear fruits in the same manner. But ASLAN is far beyond any virtual assistant; taking virtuality off the screen and shaping it into the real world; where it can be even more interactive; analyzed from various angles and occupies physical space and share it with the people it helps is really a remarkable achievement.
The Project ASLAN was developed by Guy Fierens, Stijn Huys, and Jasper Slaets. However, it is currently in its prototype mode but once it is done; it will be available as open source.