We know that Filipinos are inventors and innovators! We created things that we have surely used at least once in our lives like the Yoyo, microchips, and banana catsup. Now, there is a new Filipino innovation in town — Smart Gloves that can convert Filipino Sign Language (FSL) into Speech.

Engineering students presenting the smart gloves that convert Filipino Sign Language to speech
CSPC electrical engineering students presenting the smart gloves
Courtesy: Francis Anthony de Guzman

A video posted on July 28, 2021 went viral for introducing a new Filipino innovation made by Rency Galan Dela Cruz, Klenn Arvin V. Alcibor, and Francis Anthony de Guzman, electrical engineering students from Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges (CSPC). The gloves were made for their thesis titled “Filipino Sign Language to Voice Converter” with other group members Joana Renz Gonzales Jimenez and Andrea Moran.

How was it made?

The gloves have flex sensors to detect finger movement and an MPU-6050 for the angular rotations of the hand. The gloves will send the collected data to a computer via Wi-Fi for processing.

Francis Anthony de Guzman explaining how smart gloves convert Filipino Sign Language to speech
Francis Anthony de Guzman explaining how smart gloves convert FSL to speech.
Courtesy: Francis Anthony de Guzman

What’s new?

These smart gloves are not actually a new technology. In 2012, a team of Ukrainian students invented similar gloves that can convert sign language into a speech by using a smartphone. In 2020, the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) bioengineers developed the same technology of translating American Sign Language into speech.

What’s new of course is now we have smart gloves that can convert Filipino Sign Language!

Smart gloves innovationi by Ukrainian Students
Smart gloves made by Ukrainian Students
Courtesy: Forbes.com
Smart gloves innovation by UCLA bioengineers
Smart gloves made by UCLA bioengineers
Courtesy: Jun Chen Lab/UCLA

The Filipino Sign Language

In the Philippines, 1.23% of the population is either deaf, mute, or hearing-impaired. As of 2009, the total number of deaf or partially deaf is 517,536.

In 2018, the Philippine president signed the Filipino Sign Language Act into law declaring FSL as the national sign language of the Filipino Deaf. It also mandates its use in schools, broadcast media, and workplaces.

The words "Filipino Sign Language" in Filipino Sign Language
Courtesy: DEAF FSL’s Flicker photostream

How can this innovation help others?

This new product could benefit a lot of Filipinos when it becomes accessible to those who need it. It will not only help the deaf and speech-impaired to communicate but also will increase awareness and teach how FSL is being used through its real-time speech conversion. As a result, it could help popularize FSL and be widely recognized in the Philippines.

“This project gives voice to the deaf and speech-impaired people. With this, the communication barrier can be lessened. Allowing the deaf and speech-impaired people to express themselves and give them more opportunities to grow in their respective careers.”

Klenn Arvin V. Alcibor
fsl to voice converter gloves Creator

How can understanding FSL benefit us?

Learning FSL will not only help the deaf, the hearing-impaired, and the mute community but the hearing people as well, this will somehow remove some barriers. It would make the communication a two-way process as it’s supposed to be! FSL users then will also experience fewer difficulties on how they will communicate with those who are not familiar with sign language.

The future of Filipino innovations!

These smart gloves were made for a college thesis project and though not yet for use by the public, it served its purpose by being part of the innovation to further improve the technology that can help the deaf and speech-impaired. We’re looking forward to the bright future of the gadget and its proponents. 

Indeed, Filipinos are geniuses! From students who created the smart gloves for FSL even being under the pandemic, Solar windows, hybrid trimaran, ReliefVent! These feats should make every Filipinos proud!

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Written by

Robelle Anne Good

An incoming 4th year Public Relations student at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. Self-proclaimed audiophile who loves travelling and wishes she could travel again.