Four Ukrainian tech whizzes have done the seemingly impossible, TIME reports: They’ve given a voice to the voiceless. Calling themselves QuadSquad, they created a product called “Enable Talk”—gloves that translate sign language into spoken words, giving a voice to the 40 million people who live every day with speech and hearing impairments.
QuadSquad invented their sensory gloves as part of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition, nabbing this year’s top prize for their innovation. The tech tournament challenges young scientists to create something that takes on one of “the world’s toughest problems.” Although it might sound like simply an international science fair, that baking soda and vinegar volcano definitely won’t cut it.
Most of the projects focused on the environment or healthcare. But QuadSquad tackled a much more basic problem: communication. The Enable Talk gloves work by translating the gestures of the user’s hands through a text-to-talk engine connected to a smart phone. The runners-up also deserve commendation: A team from Japan created a software program featuring lights that “talk to each other,” saving energy by dimming lights when they aren’t being used; and the third-place team from Portugal made a shopping cart capable of following disabled customers through a grocery store.
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