Len Klie

Speaking with Your Hands, and Not in Sign Language

Just when we started thinking speech had been to the top of the mountain and back and there is nowhere left for the technology to go, this comes into our offices:

Glove-based prototype

Apparently, there’s a new glove-based text input and speech synthesizer system to help communication for the speech-impaired. The system is based on a keyboard-independent touch-typing glove (www.kittytech.com) originally designed for data input into wearable computers.

With the emergence of cell-phones as multi-computing platforms, wearable computers never panned out, and neither did the KITTY system. Its creator, Carsten Mehring, the IPT lead combustor developer at Hamilton Sundstrand Power Systems, is currently participating in a System Design Certificate at MIT and started to pitch his KITTY system to a fellow student whose severely speech-impaired friend uses his iPhone and the text-to-speech tool on that phone to communicate.

Mehring was reminded of a German company that contacted him a few years ago about using the technology as a data entry device for a Palm-type device with an embedded speech synthesizer.  The company claimed that being able to type with your fingers on your thumbs (while wearing the prescribed gloves) using the same layout in touch-typing, and doing this  while focusing on the individual you are talking to, would help to make communication more comfortable and less awkward.

Mehring is very excited about this application and will be using this project as his product development assignment at the Systems Design and Management Department at MIT.