Wesley is a high school student who participated in a summer research experience at the lab during June-August 2009 and 2010. He recorded a video blog entry about his experience, and he also used software at the lab to create an ASL animation expressing the same information as his video. He has also prepared an English version of his blog post which is included below.
Hi, my name is Wesley, and I am 18 years old. I will be senior this fall. I attend Lexington School for the Deaf. I am working at the LATLab, Linguistic and Assistive Technologies Laboratory at Queen College (City University of New York), for only 8 weeks in summer.
The purpose of the lab’s research is to analyze individuals’ use of ASL to improve ASL animations. We gather information about ASL by video camera from signers who come to the lab. After that, we use a program called Sign Stream to analyze the signers’ body, eyes, and eyebrow movement.
We also have a program called Sign Smith to make animations of sign language stories. However, Sign Smith has a limited ASL dictionary. That program’s signs don’t always match what you prefer it to say. Due to these limitations with the dictionary and matching the user’s preferences, we have another program called Gesture Builder 2.0. With that program, you can modify the signer in animations. You also can create your own custom signs that can be added to the Sign Smith program’s dictionary!
I have three favorite activities in the LATLab. I like to use the Sign Stream program to analyze each signer. Personally, I love analyzing things. So, I like to analyze the different type of ASL that signers use during our experiments. Most of the time, I determine how the signers move their head, eyes, and eyebrows at exact times. I also like to use Gesture Builder 2.0 because I love to play with the animation of signing. I like to make sign language animations become like real human’s signing. The best thing about LATLab is that we don’t work alone. We have partners who always help. There’s teamwork when making decisions, and this makes you feel comfortable.
There is a lot different equipment that we use during experiments. There is a lot of fascinating equipment that we use. I am most fascinated with calibrating the right and left gloves. Both of those gloves are put on the signer’s hands so that the computer can recognize the movements of the signer’s hand during the experiments. I am fascinated when both Professor Matt and Pengfei modify each of the joints on both hands. It takes them an hour to do both hands.