Omar Abdel Salam is an Egyptian student in the Department of Communications and Computers at the Faculty of Engineering at Mansoura University. He invented electronic glasses that address the deaf and mute, named Glasses SensEar.
They help them effortlessly communicate and translate their sign language into an audible sound that comes out of the glasses.
Abdel Salam began to work on this innovative project in 2015 and designed nine models for glasses. He asked for the help of physics professors in the Faculty of Science at the university to enhance these glasses, as this innovation is unparalleled worldwide.
The glasses weigh only 80 grams, and they work on helping the deaf communicate with people by translating sound into sign language.
An interview with Yamama Waked
Who is Omar Abdel Salam in terms of creative thinking and attention to technology?
I’m Omar Abdel Salam Hilal, a student at the faculty of Engineering in the Department of Communications and Computers, Al-Mansoura University. I started engaging in scientific research in 2014 with the idea of “a travelator” in the streets to facilitate moving from one place to another. It was just an idea I presented to my teachers, but all agreed on the inability of implementation and unworthiness. In 2015, I was travelling with my father in Port Said. One of the tyres broke, so we had to stop on the road at a car maintenance center. The worker at the center was deaf.
We had difficulty communicating with him. What’s more, he was illiterate. At that time, the idea of electronic glasses a deaf person could wear that could immediately translate my speech into sign language and appear on the lenses came to me. It could work as an instant translator. Thus, he could understand me.
Furthermore, their sign language gets translated into an audible sound that comes out the glasses. It can be heard by a non-disabled person and understand the speech. If they want to read, the glasses translate sound into writing on the glasses’ lenses. All that was just an idea. Implementing it needed a lot of research. So far, the glasses have been developed and enhanced ten times. I am working on the 11th model and will be finished in a matter of days.
The first model was an application on cell phones to translate sound into sign language.
The second model was glasses connected to a cell phone and translated three words only into sign language.
Then I developed the 3rd model for other glasses that can translate any number of words into sign language that appears on a small screen 25 cm away from the eye.
The fourth model was to change the size of glasses and enhance the way it looks.
In model 5, I used the technique augmented reality to reduce the size.
In the sixth model, I increased the strength of the lenses to minimize the size and weight to half. The second function of the glasses is translating only three signs of one piece of speech.
In the seventh model, I validated the glasses working with deaf people and decided that I redo the whole work so that the glasses are not connected to a cell phone. They would have an attached processor and a power bank to operate the glasses.
In the eighth model, I used a better camera and screen and enhanced the glasses to translate written text into sign language on the lenses.
In the ninth model, I developed the outer design of the glasses, so they’re easy to use.
The tenth model was radically developed. The processor became built-in instead of in the pocket, and the battery became inside the glasses rather than an external power bank. The battery is rechargeable as it is now able to be translated into Arabic without an Internet connection. I also added translating sign language to a sound coming out of the glasses.
How did your major in engineering help you develop your talent for invention?
The study of engineering has been my dream since childhood. Thank God. After I enrolled in the faculty, it helped me develop the project, the possibility of its implementation, and understand the basic concepts of all parts of the glasses.
What are the challenges and difficulties you have faced during the implementation of this creative project?
Most of the difficulties I encountered were the lack of support since 2015, whether financial support or technical support. I also faced trouble finding the special glasses materials since they are banned in Egypt for security reasons. Moreover, I had great difficulty gathering interested engineers to work with me on the project, not to mention their high wages.
When will the glasses become applicable in reality and make their debut worldwide?
I am now working on the eleventh model so that the design is closer to the final product. I am seeking to get enough support to work on the final product and then connect the glasses to all deaf and mute around the world.
How can we use the importance of technological creativity to employ it in the service of humanitarian action?
Technology can facilitate life for all people with special needs if we want and work on this. I have worked in one of the Prosthetics companies for an extended period. I am currently working in another company of Prosthetics in Egypt. Technology can enable all people with special needs to live a normal life. I hope I find the right environment to work on this, especially since the number of people with special needs in the world now exceeds 900 million people. It encourages many young people to help them and stand by them. This is the charity of knowledge and education. Doctors and engineers, we could all offer them support.
What is the ambition of Omar Abdel Salam in the world of technological innovation?
My principal hope in life is that I solve the problems of all people with special needs in the world. I hope to found a company that manufactures all that helps people with special needs and look forward to producing the glasses and delivering them to the 466 million deaf in the world and 9 million in Egypt.