05.05.2020 - Press release
Cologne, 05 May 2020 - There are about 70 million deaf people worldwide. For many of them text language is a foreign language; they use sign language instead. Legislators have responded to the specific information needs of people with disabilities and are obliging authorities and public bodies in Germany to provide barrier-free digital communication. In the "AVASAG" project, supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), experts are jointly developing a 3D sign language avatar.
Digitalization of society is advancing and opening up many new opportunities. Barrier-free digital communication for people with disabilities simplifies their everyday life and ensures their participation in society. In the BMBF-funded joint project AVASAG (which stands for Avatar-based Language Assistant for Automated Sign Language Translation), six partners from research and development, led by Charamel (specialist for interactive avatar-based assistance systems), are working on a real-time 3D sign language avatar for the automatic translation of German texts into sign language. In the project, a completely new sign animation method for 3D avatars will be developed: It combines machine learning methods with rule-based synthesis methods that map text into sign language. Temporal and spatial dependencies of the complex sign elements are resolved very precisely. This results in a high-quality, realistic representation of a 3D sign language avatar. Corresponding offers enable deaf and hearing-impaired people to participate more comprehensively in society and to become more integrated into the "digital society". The results of the project will be evaluated together with the deaf target group and tested in the application field of travel information and service with associating partners.
Partners in the consortium: a network strong for social participation
Under Charamel's leadership, researchers and developers from the following companies and research institutions in Germany are working together over the next three years: yomma GmbH - experts in sign language in Hamburg; Ergosign GmbH - pioneer in user experience design in Saarbrücken; German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) GmbH - research areas "Cognitive Assistance Systems", "Language Technology and Multilinguality"; Cologne University of Applied Sciences / Institute for Media and Photo Technology, Cologne, and the University of Augsburg / Human Centered Multimedia (HCM) in Augsburg. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of "KMU-innovativ" with a focus on human-technology interaction. The project volume is 1.98 million Euro, 74% of which is funded by the BMBF.
Alexander Stricker, Managing Director of Charamel GmbH and project manager of AVASAG: "Digital accessibility is becoming increasingly important in order to convey content dynamically and adequately prepared for all target groups. Automated tools help to ensure barrier-free communication. We are enthusiastic about the idea of being able to make a significant contribution to this with the help of our smart, adaptive avatars".
The project at a glance:
Project name: AVASAG (Avatar-based language assistant for automated sign translation)
Project volume: € 1.98 million (~74 % BMBF funding share)
Project duration: 01 May 2020 - 30 April 2023
- Charamel GmbH, Cologne (management)
- yomma GmbH - Experts for Sign Language, Hamburg
- Ergosign GmbH - pioneer for user experience design, Saarbrücken;
- German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) GmbH - research areas "Cognitive Assistance Systems", "Language Technology and Multilinguality", Cologne University of Applied Sciences / Institute for Media and Photo Technology, Cologne
- University of Augsburg / Human Centered Multimedia (HCM)), Augsburg
BU: 3D Sign Language Avatar translates text into sign language.
Picture credits: Copyright Charamel
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Elke von Harsdorf
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