Tuesday, 02 Oct, 2007 Technology

New Software Developed to Convert Speech into Avatars


Specialists at IBM, UK developed a software that is able to replace speech by sign language and use avatars to render gestures.

The software program called "Say It Sign It" can be used by hearing impaired people for education, as well as to make their access to media easier. Developers claim that it can be integrated on television, personal computer, mobile phone or any other screen tech.

Among the researchers from Universities of Oxford, Durham, Glasgow and East Anglia, there was Ben Fletcher, being deaf himself who helped to invent a program.

The software works on voice recognition system where words that are spoken into microphone are converted into text, that is later processed by a special translator into sign language. The sign language itself refers to a Dictionary of Deaf people that will transform text into computer-animated characters.

This make distant communication much easier, allowing various applications to be linked. The software program will be hosted on the website where a speaker and the recipient could sign in and start communicating. The words spoken by the speaker will be converted into animated characters seen on recipient's screen.

Later it is planned that program will be sold to be installed on personal computer. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to perfect the program so it could hit the markets. Researchers say that in spite of the fact that software is quite effective in translating speech into sign language, the study of the sign language itself was not thoroughly studied yet.

Besides, many people need more human expression like subtle face expressions and gestures to understand and render their speech, thus the team is working to improve the software.

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