A 25 year old Kenyan has invented smart gloves which are capable of converting sign language movements into audio speech.

Roy Allela, a graduate from the University of Nairobi, with a bachelors degree in Microprocessor Technology and Instrumentation, was inspired by the need to communicate effectively with his six year old niece who was born deaf.

The gloves dubbed Sign-IO have sensors attached on each finger that process the letter being signed by quantifying the bend of the finger. The gloves are paired via Bluetooth to a mobile phone application which then vocalises the letters.


“People speak at different speeds and it’s the same with people who sign – some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use it. My niece wears the gloves, pairs them to her phone or mine, then starts signing and I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” says Allela.

Through the app, users are able to set the language, gender, and pitch of the audio voice, with accuracy results averaging 93 percent.

The invention saw him bag the coveted Trailblazer Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and also emerge second runners up at the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders in Innovation Fellowship in London.