I just came across an article from Cornell University’s Chronicle Online about some new technology that Cornell researchers have developed to allow deaf people to use sign language with their new or refurbished cell phones. The improvements that they have developed for video chat software seems like it will benefit anyone who uses video chat, not just the deaf.
When I began the article, I was thinking, “Well why can’t you just use video chat to sign?” The article went on to clarify that the current video chat software is too slow and spotty to really carry on a clear conversation via sign language. Cornell Researchers have solved this problem by developing software to deliver video at about 10 frames per second, making the video more reliable.
They also faced problems with video chat using up a cell phone’s battery life very quickly. They solved that issue by developing software “smart enough to vary the frames per second based on whether the user is signing or watching the other person sign.” This seems like an advancement that all manufacturers making phones with video chat capability can benefit from.
Video chatting on cell phones still seems like something that is a year or two away from really being reliable, but perhaps the people at Cornell working to make cell phones more user friendly for the deaf will speed things up a bit.