Microsoft’s Kinect can be a sign language translator

Today, cameras are not only virtually everywhere, we’re also developing ways that they can “know” what they’re seeing. Microsoft has developed a way for its Kinect product to, in a sense, understand sign language.

I have an aunt who translates sign language for the deaf at her church. Could she one day not be needed if a machine can do her job just as well?

Over the decades, we’re becoming more and more capable of synthetically reproducing tasks that were previously thought to be only possible by a human mind. Computers have been programmed to beat the best human players at both Jeopardy! and chess. Not only that, but most of the trading on Wall Street is now automated: The majority of shares traded there are now done by computers running algorithms to decide what to buy and sell at lightning speed. The things our computers can do are amazing, and a little scary.

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3 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Kinect can be a sign language translator

  1. This is fascinating. Honestly, I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to technology that replaces humans. I would rather bypass the ATM and go inside instead, and the self-check stations bother me to no end. But I’ve never considered before how difficult it would be for deaf students to go abroad. This would be a huge gain for them. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you!
    Yeah, the self-check stations at grocery stores bother me, too. I don’t use them.
    A practical version of this sign-language interpreting technology is probably several years away, but when it comes I hope people find it more useful than obtrusive.

  3. […] A followup to my earlier post on technological automation: […]

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