A machine can learn to identify sign languages

While typing a message, the computer you’re working on identifies the language you use instantly. As part of his PhD project, Binyam Gebrekidan Gebre trained a computer program to perform the same trick on sign languages. Language recognition is the first step for automatic translations of videos.

To study sign languages – natural languages that use hands, facial and body movements to convey meaning – large data collections are needed. Transcription of videos is very time consuming though and therefore very expensive. The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen set up a project to automate sign language transcription.

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