25-year-old invents smart gloves that convert sign language movements into audio speech.
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
Roy Allela’s six-year-old niece was born deaf and found it very difficult to communicate with her family. This was made worse by the fact that none of her family members knew sign language.
Roy was saddened by his niece’s predicament and the need to communicate and connect with her pushed 25-year-old Roy, a citizen of Kenya, to invent the smart gloves that translates sign language movements into audio speech.
Over 30 million people around the world have speech impairments and must rely on sign language, which poses a language barrier when seeking to communicate with non-sign language users.
It is something Roy Allela’s knows too well.
Sign-io’s sign language to speech translation glove recognizes different letters signed by sign language users and transmits this data to an Android application where it is voiced.
Roy’s invention made him win admiration and recognition from the prestigious American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the world’s largest organization for mechanical engineers.
Roy and two other African inventors – one from Uganda and Ghana – took home the Grand Prize in second of three regional showcase events.
Brian Gitta from Uganda (developed Matibabu, a noninvasive device used to test for Malaria), Charles Antipem from Ghana (created Science Set, a portable, practical, affordable and highly scalable science lab that can fit in the bag and on the desk of students) and Roy Allela shared $500,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, along with three other winners in Bangalore, India, and three more in Washington, DC.
It is interesting to note that during the competition, the finalists stood before a panel of judges which comprised of successful entrepreneurs, academicians, and founders of venture-funded startup companies, to pitch the engineering design attributes of their prototypes and state their plans for manufacturing, implementation, marketing, and financing.