In German-speaking countries, deaf-blind people use a “tactile alphabet” called Lorm to communicate with one another, which involves a series of motions on the hand.
The problem with Lorm, though, is that few people understand it. This means that people who are both deaf and blind are often limited to communicating with others who understand Lorm.
But a new technology aims to help them communicate more easily with people who don’t understand Lorm. Researchers in Berlin are developing the Mobile Lorm Glove, with which deaf-blind people can transmit Lorm to text on a computer or mobile device.
A deaf-blind person can run her fingers across sensors on the glove’s palm, just as she would on a normal hand. The sensors pick up on the Lorm and then translate those tactile motions into text. The communication is then sent as a text message to the receiver’s smartphone, for example. The transmission occurs via Bluetooth.
Conversely, the receiver can then send a message back to the glove.
It works just like a normal text message, but there are small vibrating motors on the back of the glove. The text is then translated in Lorm and communicated via vibrations.
The Mobile Lorm Glove could allow deaf-blind people to make more connections and communicate with more than one person at a time.
The glove is still a prototype but has already had practical applications in the real world.
“I can send and receive — it’s easy,” Edi Haug, a deaf-blind man, told the BBC through the glove’s translations.