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SBIR Phase I:Robotic system outputting natural tactile-sign language to aid Deaf and Deafblind communication

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2212930
Agency Tracking Number: 2212930
Amount: $255,975.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: R
Solicitation Number: NSF 21-562
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-02-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-10-31
Small Business Information
37 Cottage St
Hudson, MA 01749
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Samantha Johnson
 (978) 618-8598
Business Contact
 Samantha Johnson
Phone: (978) 618-8598
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will contribute to the fields of low-cost anthropomorphic robotics as well as machine translation. Leveraging advancements in low-cost manufacturing and deep learning, the project is developing an accessible and state-of-the-art complaint robot with robust remote processing. Using remote processing to avoid expensive microprocessors and memory capabilities, the proposed cloud server can capture any wifi-based communication and entertainment, while translating language with custom standards and user preferences in real-time. By granting DeafBlind (DB) individuals newfound independence and privacy, the success of the project will revolutionize how DB individuals interact with their community as well as provide immediate access to the abled world’s resources. The market opportunity is estimated at $213 billion annually. This product will have a significant impact on the assistive technology field, targeting the historically underserved DB populations, for whom there is little innovation. Importantly, this would be the first commercialized signing robot. _x000D_
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will provide a convenient and accessible method for DeafBlind (DB) people to interact with the world. The current lack of communication aides among the DB community requires all people with severe deafblindness to rely on human interpreters to interact with the hearing/sighted world. However, with extensive lead times for these expensive services, DB individuals regularly experience isolation and loneliness. This research aims to achieve a fully compliant, flexible fingerspelling anthropomorphic hand. Additionally, this research aims to develop the first architecture for translating between a spoken and signed language. Technical research requires investigation into motion capture mapping and storage of continuous motion as well as tendon actuation schemes to achieve a low-cost 18 degrees of freedom robotic hand. Additionally, linguistics research explores DB language usage (syntax, morphology, sign production, etc.) as well as preferences based on demographic data. Anticipated technical results include a robotic hand that can sign with greater than90% recognition from DB users, signing at variable speeds ranging from one to two signs per second with accurate translation patterns between the source language and outputted tactile signs._x000D_
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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