Groundbreaking research is happening at Florida Poly thanks to students who can access the University’s state-of-the-art labs because of philanthropic support. Rabeet Fatmi, now graduated, converted motions of American Sign Language into speech. When completed, the deaf and hearing impaired will be able to converse with anyone using just a pair of armbands and a smartphone.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” says Rabeet, now a Florida Poly alum, “But whenever we get frustrated, we just remember the big picture and how life changing this will be. I deliberately took on a project that carries significance.” The team is laying the foundation for the app using Myo Gesture Control Armbands. The bands recognize specific hand and arm movements and convert them into digital actions. So, for instance, you can wave at a computer and pause a video. At Florida Poly, students are “teaching” the armbands signs. “This is machine learning, exactly like we learn in class,” Rabeet says. Rabeet and a team of undergraduate students worked under the direction of Dr. Sherif Said Rashad, associate professor of computer engineering. “It’s a complex problem, but one we’re working diligently to solve,” Sherif says.
Rabeet and the undergraduates were in an innovation lab recording motions. Each motion has to be recorded roughly 30 times, for a total of 6000 datasets. Classes like quantitative and empirical research and advanced database development help Rabeet make sense of it all. Rabeet and the undergraduate assistants also had to develop the code and create a program from scratch to collect the data. Again, classwork made that achievable. “Florida Poly has played a big role in making this possible,”Rabeet says.