Wednesday, November 6, 2019

STIP Riley Wilkerson Researches Automatic American Sign Language Recognition

This summer I had the pleasure of participating in a Summer Team Impact Project, focusing on American Sign Language (ASL) recognition via three different wireless devices. My interest in this program sparked when I saw that it involved ASL. I have been learning this language for a few years and was eager to delve deeper. My main task this term was signing for data collection. I sat in front of the sensor and signed a variety of gestures, allowing the sensor to become familiar with my body movements and to allow the team to test algorithms in cross-user recognition. I actively reached out to those who utilize ASL as their primary means of communication to ask them what they thought of our project and if they would utilize these devices in their daily life. Every day was different, some slower than others, but I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this new technology and pushing the boundaries of its capabilities.

A goal of mine is to achieve fluency in sign language and utilize it in a pediatric occupational therapy (OT) setting. This project allowed me to use the language every day, ultimately pushing me closer to fluency. 
Additionally, it provided me a glimpse into the future of ASL recognition and how I can one day incorporate it into the lives of my clients as an OT. Participating in this project taught me quite a lot, but my main take away is to always keep asking questions, even when you think you’re done. Unlike school projects, there is no grade in research and there is not always a specific deadline. Therefore, it is beneficial to keep exploring, go out of your comfort zone, and test wild ideas; you never know what breakthrough you may stumble across next.