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Sara’s sign language translation invention

Volunteers needed to help develop intern’s prototype

Andy Murrill

Charlotte Booth


01635 886625

Sara’s sign language translation invention

A NEWBURY intern has developed a device to translate sign language into writing or speech. 

Sara Nordin Hällgren, 22, intern at National Instruments (NI), based at Newbury Business Park, has developed a prototype that translates sign language into writing or speech.

Ms Nordin Hällgren said: “The programming itself has been really interesting and I’m excited to have made something that could help people in their daily lives.”

She is currently looking for volunteers to help her with the project. 

She said: “I started learning sign language to help me develop the project, but I would love to get feedback from someone who is fluent  – or at least more experienced – in sign language. 

“Since I am not fluent in sign language, it is preferred that they speak English or can bring someone who does.

“I have built a functioning prototype, which combines a motion sensor with artificial intelligence.

“I have already taught it to interpret the alphabet for either American or British Sign Language.”

The device uses a motion detector with built-in software that uses temperature and shape to identify a hand.

Ms Nordin Hällgren said: “The difficult part was getting the program to tell what hand sign is being displayed.

“I decided to use machine learning so that the program can learn from past experiences and get more accurate over time.

“I started by showing the program hundreds of known hand signs so it could learn what they looked like and find connections.

“Those known training signs become a reference database.

“When the sensor is shown a new hand sign, the program can then use statistics to make a qualified guess at which hand sign the user is making.”

Volunteers would need to go to the NI offices for about 30 minutes, or Ms Nordin Hällgren could meet somewhere more convenient.

To volunteer, email Ms Nordin Hällgren at

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