Researchers at the University of Washington have been working on a mobile device for transmitting ASL (American Sign Language) using video. The device has just entered into field testing this year, and researchers hope to be able to make a device that will use just 30kbps to transmit video, while extending battery life by using motion detecting algorithms.
It’s interesting reading about this project, to be honest the first thing that came to mind would be the obvious use of the iPhone and FaceTime. The difference is that the UW device has been optimized for video, and require significantly less bandwidth than FaceTime. User response has been positive so far, with the test group reporting that the MobileASL is actually easier (and faster) to use then text messages or email.
Regardless of potential issues, this is a great idea. I have friends who are deaf or hard of hearing, and this is something that they will definitely be interested in which it hits the consumer market. One thing is for certain; it’s going to be easier for cops to spot them talking on the phone while driving.