Project team: Rashad Karanouh, Charlotte Moreau
Project background: Supported through a CITRIS Invention Lab fellowship and created in the CITRIS Invention Lab and in Jacobs Hall, fall 2016
Nabu, a finalist in Fast Company’s 2017 World Changing Ideas Awards, puts the power of translation in the hands of deaf people. Although roughly 70 million people worldwide use sign language as their first language, many communities face severe shortages of sign language interpreters. The team behind Nabu aims to close this gap with a seamlessly integrated wearable, empowering deaf people to express themselves efficiently and autonomously.
Prototyped using Maker Pass resources, the Nabu wristband maps hand gestures in real time by capturing finger and wrist movements. It then uses deep learning algorithms to predict and display an output in the target language. In designing Nabu, the team has aimed to take a flexible, user-centric approach. One focus is building extreme hand-mapping precision into the system — and incorporating inputs from beyond the hands, such as the eyebrow, mouth, and head movements that are important in sign language syntax. Each wristband will also come to reflect its user’s unique signing style, learning from the user’s physiology and movements over time.
Nabu can easily be worn throughout the day and in diverse settings, from medical appointments to the workplace. Linking precision technology with a user-friendly form factor, the Nabu team aims to broaden access to interpersonal communication in these critical contexts and beyond, opening new opportunities for the deaf community in the process.
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