Meet the Japanese company that’s making a sign language keyboard



Here’s a great crowdfunding project that’s currently getting some attention in Japan. An initiative from Fujisawa-based ShuR, the SLinto project aspires to be the world’s first crowdsourced dictionary for sign language, with the world’s first sign language keyboard [1].

While it might be easy to look up words in an English, French, or Chinese dictionary [2], for those who use sign language, how would you go about looking up a specific sign? The company describes their solution (pictured above) as follows:

Our sign language keyboard makes the whole process much easier. There are four main components for a sign; location, handshape, orientation, and movement. Our special keyboard allows you to look up a sign using its location and handshape and provide search results in videos.

This is a remarkable idea not only because it will help people who already use sign language, but also because it will enable people who don’t use sign language to study it more easily.

SHuR’s initiative also includes the very lofty goal of creating a crowdsourced dictionary of sign languages [3], with Wikipedia-style additions from users in video form, able to keep up with any new words or jargon that are added to sign languages over time.

Appropriately, ShuR has turned to the power of the crowd to fund its project, calling for financial supporters over on Countdown, targeting 1.5 million yen (just over $16,000) in its 60 day campaign which has just recently begun. If you’d like to throw your support behind this novel idea, credit cards and Paypal payments are accepted.

For more information about this project, check out the TedxTokyo talk below from ShuR co-founder Junto Ohki.

This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, and this has been just one example.

  1. This project is a cool idea, but I really wish Japanese companies would quit with the weird capitalization in their names…  ↩

  2. Ok, ok… It’s not at all easy to look up words in a Chinese dictionary.  ↩

  3. ‘Sign languages’ is plural because there are 130 varieties in the world currently.  ↩