The team has built a number of prototypes and tested them with sign language-users in the Ukraine. The idea for the project, said team member Osika Maxim, came from interacting with hearing-impaired athletes at the groups’ school.
The few existing projects that come close to what Enable Talk is proposing generally cost around $1,200 and usually have fewer sensors, use wired connections and don’t come with an integrated software solution. Enable Talk, on the other hand, says that the hardware for its prototypes costs somewhere around $75 per device.
Besides the cost, though, another feature that makes this project so interesting is that users can teach the system new gestures and modify those that the team plans to ship in a library of standard gestures. Given the high degree of variation among sign languages, which also has regional dialects just like spoken language, this will be a welcome feature for users.
This being a Microsoft competition, the system obviously mostly uses Microsoft technology, but as the Enable Talk team pointed out, Windows Phone 7 doesn’t allow developers access to the Bluetooth stack, the current version actually runs on Windows Mobile, the predecessor to Windows Phone that even most people at Microsoft would rather not think about anymore.