When William Broad suffered a stroke that left him unable to talk two years ago, he feared he would always struggle to communicate. The grandfather was forced to spell out words using an alphabet chart after finding a computer system too bulky and slow to use. Now two years on, the 73-year-old is able to 'speak' again thanks to a revolutionary glove that turns gestures into words. The glove, called Emdad, works by converting simple finger movements into gestures, which control speech through a synthesised voice.
Willliam Broad was left mute following a stroke but can now communicate simple phrases using a 'talking' glove
Mr Broad has learnt how to articulate 20 different words and phrases, which allow him to tell his family when he is hungry, thirsty and cold as well as ask the time and say thank you. With practice the former steel-worker will be able to express 1,000 pre-programmed words and commands. Mr Broad's daughter, Keeley Bellamy, 41, from Sheffield, said: 'The glove is absolutely remarkable and has made such a difference for both dad and for the family. Dad is such an intelligent and able person so it is unbelievably frustrating for him not to be able to communicate with his loved ones. 'I am really impressed with the group's invention; it is incredibly lightweight and looks just like a normal leather glove. The team have been brilliant and I am really grateful to them - I am now looking forward to watching dad use more and more words and sentences with the glove and I hope lots more people can benefit from the invention.'
The glove is completely mobile and has an inbuilt computer that produces spoken words or phrases
The lightweight glove was the brainchild of two students from the University of Sheffield, Vinoth Gurasamy, 25, and Kalhana Colombage, 25. Mr Colomage, 25, said: 'The glove weighs approximately 100grams (0.2lbs), has a battery life which lasts one week and costs around £700. 'Although similar devices are available they are heavier and more expensive – a device with a spec of over 1,000 words or commands with a battery life of one day usually costs more than £2,000. These also have a very large screen and cannot be used in lots of everyday situations such as buying a bus ticket. Our glove blends into the users' clothes and unlike devices with a screen they never need to scroll though pages and pages to find the right word – with our device any word is a second away making it one of the fastest communication devices in the world.'
The glove was the brainchild of Kalhana Colombage, 25 (left) and Hossein Mohanna who have both studied at Sheffield University
Mr Vinoth said their inspiration for the device was an eight-year girl who they met during their course when observing people with communication difficulties. 'She was able to do everything apart from speak and the only equipment she had was a huge keyboard which helped her say a limited amount of words. 'It was extremely big and she found it very difficult to carry around. Meeting her motivated us and made us determined to help others in a similar situation.' Over the past six months the team has been working closely with Mr Broad to help him express phrases such as 'My name is William' and 'What time is it?'
Examples of how moving different fingers activates different phrases
There are currently 10 people testing the device, which the team are marketing via their company Ecofriendly Technologies. They have versions for both the left and right hand in three different sizes. Users will be able to change or remove words and phrases. 'Emdad will help you get back to your life,' the team said.
Source: Daily Mail UK