The recent triple disaster in Japan has forced many agencies to explore new and more efficient ways to respond to emergency situation. One area now set to get a much needed technological boost is the practice of live sign language message translation.
Developed by the NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories, the system takes emergency messages and translates them on the fly into text and visual animations depicting a person signing. According to the lab, while the system still has a way to go in terms of smooth fluency, hearing impaired testers claim the animated character is easier to follow than written text. You can see the system in action in the video below.