This 3D-printed robotic arm is built for sign language


While we usually see robotics applied to industrial or research applications, there are plenty of ways they could help in everyday life as well: an autonomous guide for blind people, for instance, or a kitchen bot that helps disabled folks cook. Or — and this one is real — a robot arm that can perform rudimentary sign language.

It’s part of a masters thesis from grad students at the University of Antwerp who wanted to address the needs of the deaf and hearing impaired. In classrooms, courts and at home, these people often need interpreters — who aren’t always available.

Their solution is “Antwerp’s Sign Language Actuating Node,” or ASLAN. It’s a robotic hand and forearm that can perform sign language letters and numbers. It was designed from scratch and built from…

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