High Level Design Decisions

A project log for Helping H.A.N.D.S.

We are Electrical Engineering students who built and programmed a robotic hand to translate spoken language into ASL fingerspelling.

nick-allisonNick Allison 05/25/2023 at 17:460 Comments

As a team, we considered many high-level design choices before building our current system. Building a sign language interpreter is an immensely complex task, which could not be perfected in the time we had. Operating under such tight time constraints, we realized early on that we would have to carefully choose which aspects of the project to complete and which to leave as future work. When deciding which areas of the project to focus on, we chose functionality that would serve as a strong foundation for further development. By focusing on basic functionality with this project, we will be able to return to this project later and easily improve upon our existing work.

A robust sign language interpreter robot would have two key features:

It is worth noting that non-verbal communication is just as, if not more important in sign language as it is in spoken languages. Facial expression and body language are difficult to emulate accurately in robotics, requiring much more time, research, and resources than were available to our team.

As the foundation of our project, we chose to design and implement scaled-down versions of both those features:

When deciding to implement those two features, we discussed many alternatives:

Each alternative design only captures one of the two key features of a sign language interpreter described above. For this reason, we split our project into two parts – the robotic hand and the audio detection.