3D Printing

UAntwerp 3D printed Project ASLAN crosses sign language barriers with 3D Hubs

Robotics and 3D printing combine in a thesis project from University of Antwerp masters students Guy Fierens, Stijn Huys and Jasper Slaets.

The titled Project ASLAN was developed as a solution to the shortage of sign language interpreters for the Flemish language in Flanders.

By cooperating with service bureau 3D Hubs and the European Institute for Otorhinolaryngology, the students are making the solution available open-source and accessible to everyone around the world.

Born in Antwerp – Project Aslan from Guy Fierens, Stijn Huys and Jasper Slaets.

123, ABC…

ASLAN, an acronym for Antwerp’s Sign Language Actuating Node, is a twist on the popular prosthetic arm movement in 3D printing.

ASLAN is robotic arm made capable of translating text into alphanumeric hand signs.

Project ASLAN is capable of communicating using finger spelling and counting. Image of American Sign Language alphabet via Lifeprint.
Project ASLAN is capable of communicating using finger spelling and counting. Image of American Sign Language alphabet via Lifeprint.

Made of a total 25 3D printed PLA components, the first prototype of the arm took a desktop 3D printer a total of 139 hours to make.

A further 10 hours of assembly is required to complete the hand using readily available electronic components, such as an Arduino Due and 16 servo motors.

The Antwerp team and ASLAN. Photo via 3D Hubs
The Antwerp team and ASLAN. Photo via 3D Hubs

Express yourself

3 years in the making, the ASLAN project still shows no signs of slowing down. The researchers are in the process of optimizing designs to make them available as open source .stl files, including the integration of a second signing arm.

As language is spoken with more than just the hands, the team also hope to be able to create a means of communicating facial expressions along with arms, and to teach the humanoid set-up new words and phrases using a webcam.

The Antwerp designers are working to integrate machine learning into Project ASLAN. Photo via 3D Hubs
The Antwerp designers are working to integrate machine learning into Project ASLAN. Photo via 3D Hubs

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Featured image: Project ASLAN signing robotic arm. Photo via 3D Hubs

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