Write to us
enquiry@myfinb.com

Sign of the times: AI experts work on avatar for sign language

"Experts at the University of Amsterdam are developing a computer programme that can translate into sign language, using the power of artificial intelligence. The project, part of SignLab Amsterdam, aims in the first instance to support parents of deaf children who are learning basic signing or for situations like announcements at airports and railway stations."

Experts at the University of Amsterdam are developing a computer programme that can translate into sign language, using the power of artificial intelligence.

The project, part of SignLab Amsterdam, aims in the first instance to support parents of deaf children who are learning basic signing or for situations like announcements at airports and railway stations.

‘Over the next five years I’m pretty confident we can provide something that will be useful and hopefully make a big difference,’ said Dr Floris Roelofsen, associate professor at the university’s institute for logic, language and computation and founder of the lab.

‘Six years ago, my daughter was born deaf and that’s how I became interested in sign language and deaf issues and culture. Most parents of deaf children are hearing, and it’s very difficult to learn sign language fast and well enough to start communicating with your child. It’s a big issue: if you don’t have language, there’s a delay in many other domains [like] cognitive and social [development]. I think this is the root of many problems in the lives of deaf children and adults.’

Prototype

Drawing on his own background in maths, artificial intelligence, philosophy and linguistics, Roelofsen has won the funding for a five-year project to develop an avatar that can translate simple sentences and instructions into animations.

The project, at prototype stage has already been trialled this year as a machine translation tool to improve the communication between healthcare professionals and deaf patients suffering from the coronavirus. The avatar, who does not yet have a name, can produce around 8,000 sentences such as ‘where are you feeling pain?’ or ‘the MRI is not entirely good.’

Roelofsen believes that the tool could also be used to help parents of deaf children learn sign language and sentence construction, because Dutch sign language creates a kind of ‘picture’ of events, rather than conjugating verbs.

‘In English you’d say “I go, I went or I will go,”’ he said. ‘[In sign language] it’s just one sign, go, but separately you indicate the time: “Yesterday I store go”. You first create the scene in space, then you put the actors and the objects, then you indicate what the action was or the relation between the objects. You do scene building.’

Train

One potential use, which has already been trialled at a separate experimental project at the University of Zurich, is to use an avatar to translate a set of potential train or airport announcements into signs.

‘This is something many deaf people recognise,’ said Roelofsen. ‘They are on a platform and all of a sudden everybody goes somewhere else and they don’t know why because they didn’t hear it. At the train station you can’t record every possible announcement [in a sign language video] but you want a combinatory system that can combine different signs together spontaneously. It still amounts to millions of possible announcements but the vocabulary and structure of the announcement is very restricted.

‘Train stations and airports would have a huge impact, and also websites. Many websites have some form of information that could be translated, and you cannot create videos for the whole web.’

However, he said, the artificial intelligence certainly does not mean that figures like the popular sign language interpreter Irma Sluis, present on many coronavirus government press conferences, would be replaced.

‘Most people think it would be applied in interactive dialogue but that’s way beyond the potential of current technology,’ he said. ‘It’s something we might dream of but it’s 50 years ahead. It’s not the ambition to replace Irma or any other human interpreter.’

Source: DutchNews.nl

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on telegram
Telegram
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on email
Email

AI Blog – Latest news on Artificial Intelligence and its applications on the globe. 

Browse more

Related Posts

Board Directors Can Do More With AI

Corporate governance is an evolving area that changes with policy matters and economic reforms in a country. There is notably an increasing pressure on the board of directors and management to implement policies; while maintaining a healthy culture and good corporate governance responsibility across the organisation.

Read More »

New Way Forward to Formulate Strategic Plans

The Centre for AI Innovation (CEAI), the social innovation arm of MyFinB Group, has launched a series of capacity building programme to help diverse types of organisations with strategic planning, using AI. This was implemented in view of the volatility of the business environment that causes many organisations to adopt reactive strategies rather than proactive ones. However, reactive strategies or “fire-fighting” are typically only viable as a short-term solution, even though they may require spending significant resources and time to execute them.

Read More »

Professional Firms Get AI Boost for their Clients

InfoTrust, a Singapore-based, award-winning ICT company, is embarking on a journey to build internal competencies in AI to disrupt traditional professional services such as corporate reporting solutions. The primary goal is for InfoTrust to build a suite of AI solutions using predictive and prescriptive analytics, to boost its existing suite of solutions for the Singapore market as a start.

Read More »