A team of engineering students from the University of Antwerp are building a humanoid robot that will have the ability to translate speech into sign language. Sponsored by the European Institute for Otorhinolaryngology, the robot titled “Project Aslan” aims to support the short supply of sign language interpreters across the world.
Project Aslan is in its first iteration, a 3D printed robotic arm that has the ability to convert text into sign language including finger spelling and counting. ASLAN is an abbreviation which stands for: “Antwerp’s Sign Language Actuating Node”, which reflects its meaning as connection between the hearing and the hearing-impaired.
The Aslan robot works by receiving information from a local network, and checking for updated sign languages from all over the world. Users connected to the network can send messages, which then activate the hand, elbow and finger joints to process the messages.
The goal of Project Aslan is not to replace human sign language translators but to merely provide support when they are not available.