Sarit Center, Nairobi
Oct 9-12, 2024

Roy Allela

Breaking Barriers: Roy Allela’s Smart Gloves Translate Sign Language into Speech

Roy Allela is a leading innovator in Kenya. He has accomplished a great deal as an innovator and software developer, despite his young age of 28 years. This prompted him to consider the possibilities for technology in transforming people’s lives. This is how he came up with Sign-IO Smart Gloves, which turn sign language into audible speech.

Background and Education

Allela’s journey began at the University of Nairobi, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Microprocessor Technology and Instrumentation.

Motivation and Drive

The concept of developing smart gloves arose from a personal experience. His six-year-old niece, who was born deaf, had difficulty communicating with those around her. This scenario at home fueled his determination to find a solution that would help not only his niece but millions more like her.

Professional Pursuits

Professionally, Allela has done many things. For instance, he served as a technical evangelist and program manager at Intel, allowing him to further pursue interests such as machine learning, computer vision, and embedded systems, among others. At Intel, he has been able to combine his love for technology with social change at all times. Allela has contributed his expertise as a data science tutor at Oxford University in addition to his position at Intel. His scholarly endeavors have not only enabled him to share his knowledge with others but also to remain at the forefront of innovation and research.

Accomplishments and Acclaim

The work of Roy Allela has not been recognized. At the 2017 Innovation Showcase of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, he was given the Hardware Trailblazer Award. In addition, he received recognition as the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders in Innovation Fellowship’s second runner-up.

The Invention: Sign-IO Smart Gloves

Allela’s dream of a world without communication boundaries is embodied in the Sign-IO Smart Gloves. These gloves can translate sign language into words and sentences in real-time by utilizing each finger’s flex sensors, which detect the extent of bending and evaluate the letters being signed. When linked to an app via Bluetooth, these gloves can vocalize what is being signed with 93% accuracy.

Technology Behind the Gloves

Flex sensors on each finger detect degrees of bend and movement. These are vital in detecting specific sign language actions. The data from these sensors is processed and delivered to a mobile application via Bluetooth.

The Mobile Application

Allela produced a companion app for the gloves. Sign language signs become voices using this smartphone application after being transformed into digital impulses by the gloves. As a result, people who use sign language and those who do not can communicate immediately.

Roy Allela’s smart gloves are more than just an invention; they also represent optimism and progress. They show young people how to apply innovation to tackle real-world challenges. Allela is a role model for young inventors in Africa and around the world, demonstrating that anything is possible with enthusiasm and perseverance as he works to develop his invention and widen its applicability.

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