Kinect Supports Sign Language

Good news for the hearing-impaired—Microsoft’s new controller-free technology appears like it will support the use of American Sign Language (ASL).

In a U.S. patent application, as noticed by SlashGear, Microsoft lays out the basic framework behind Kinect.

One section, illustrated in an image on SlashGear, shows a person making sign language gestures that Kinect can understand.


The user 502 is making a gesture with his left hand 508a to signal the character "a" in American Sign Language (ASL). This gesture may be interpreted as if the user were pressing the "a" key on a keyboard. In embodiments, the user is not limited to a single hand to make a gesture. The user may make the gesture with his right hand, both hands, or some combination of his body parts. Additionally, the user may use a prop, such as a conductor’s wand in making the gesture.

In an embodiment, this sign language comprises American Sign Language (ASL). Where the language is ASL, the gesture may be a single letter or number, or a word or even a full expression or phrase, as is allowed by the language. ASL has the advantage of having a large number of people who are already facile in using it. To that end, a user who is facile in ASL will have an easy time inputting characters to a system that accepts ASL gestures as input.

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  1. 0
    Flamespeak says:

    This is a part of a patent and not a feature that the device will actually be using, but it looks like MS will be planning on having the tech get to the point it can support such features in the future. As it stands right now there is no way this thing (which can’t even detect your movements properly if you are sitting down) will work with any kind of accuracy. If you dig a little further you see how they filed a patent for kinect saying it will be able to read lips as well. Yeah, don’t get your hopes up folks, this stuff ain’t happening, but it does mean they can work on suing someone else should they come out with tech that DOES actually do this and it works.

  2. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Neat as a speedy alternative to a virtual keyboard.  Hopefully you don’t have to sign painfully slow for Kinect to correctly interpret your input.

    As an aside, I know a little sign language but I’ve only had the opportunity to use it once.  A guy in a store came up to me and repeatedly finger spelled "polo" at me.  I had no idea what he wanted.  I signed "What is ‘polo’?" but he threw his arms up in frustration and walked away.


    Andrew Eisen

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