To mark International Deaf Week, Snapchat created custom stickers and three AR lenses to encourage users to finger-spell, the company said Tuesday.
The new features were developed with the help of feedback and guidance from the company’s deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, as well as using AI and computer vision technology developed by the Hungarian startup SignAll, which focuses on technologies for the deaf. SignAll has developed technology that allows hand movements to be tracked in order to translate sign language into spoken language. The company launched the Ace ASL finger spelling app for iOS in April and for Android earlier this month.
The new Snap features were also developed in-house by the Deaf Snap Lab software engineer Jennica Pounds. Pounds said her eldest son had difficulty learning American sign language, which was a huge motivation for her to work on the new tools. “I’m excited about this technology because I really believe it will open so many applications wide,” she said in a press release. “Technologies like this help families like mine to communicate with one another and grow together.”
A snap sticker with the ASL symbol for “I love you”. Snap
The AR lenses help Snap users spell their names with their fingers along with common words like “love”, “hug” and “smile”. You can record the experience and share it with other users in the chat. And there’s also a new group of Bitmoji stickers that show off some frequently-signed terms.