Hey there tech-savvy designers!

If you’ve been keeping a finger on the pulse of interface design, you’ve probably come across the increasing buzz about gestural interfaces in augmented reality (AR). But today, we’re not just going to skim the surface. Instead, we’re taking a closer look into a unique and uncommon idea; sign language-inspired gesture control.

Why Sign Language?

Think about it. How many times do you see people trying to explain, translate, or communicate something with hand gestures. Sign languages, have been around for centuries and are refined, comprehensive systems of communication. They’re rich, expressive, and ergonomic — after all, they’re designed to be comfortably “spoken” with hands.

When we channel this into AR, we open up an avenue for intuitive, user-centric design, translating natural gestures into actionable commands in the digital space.

Benefits of Sign Language-Inspired Gestures

1. Universality

Sign languages, while varied across cultures, have common signs that are universally understood. By using these common signs as the foundation for gesture controls, AR systems can be more easily understood and adopted globally.

2. Speed and Efficiency

No need to fumble with new, complex gestures. Many users might already be familiar with basic sign language, providing a jumpstart to AR interactions.

3. Inclusivity

By embracing sign language gestures, we’re taking a step toward inclusive design, ensuring that the deaf and hard-of-hearing community can engage seamlessly with AR.

Practical Tips for Implementation

Start Small: Begin by incorporating fundamental sign language gestures for basic commands. For instance, the sign for “book” in ASL, where palms are slapped together, could be used to open a digital notebook or planner in AR.

Educate Your Users: If you’re introducing sign language gestures that aren’t universally known, include a fun tutorial. AR could overlay the correct gesture, guiding the user’s hand movement.

Feedback is Key: Always provide visual, haptic, or auditory feedback to confirm a gesture’s recognition.

Real-World Examples

Virtual Retail: Imagine walking into a virtual shop. You see a shirt you like. Instead of awkwardly navigating a menu, you simply use the sign for “try” and instantly, your avatar dons the shirt. Shopping made intuitive!

Gaming: We already have games that use basic hand movements. Now, picture a mystery game where deciphering sign language clues becomes part of the challenge. Engaging and educational!

Designing a Product: Designers have been able to to use 3D CAD tools for a while now, to really bring concepts to life. But with AR, product designers can put that CAD construction in the products intended user setting. The likes of Volkswagen have used AR in its digital design reviews, so they can catch any anomalies between the virtual and physical designs, therefore increasing the quality of the manufactured product.

Think back to one of the biggest commercially successful product designs we have worked on, Football Flick’s Urban Skills Trainer. The impact of AR, as well as VR, on sports and fitness training and equipment is huge.

Challenges to Consider

It’s not all rosy. Incorporating sign language into AR gestural interfaces does come with challenges:

Complexity: Some signs are intricate and might be hard to replicate accurately.

Cultural Variations: Just like spoken language, signs can differ across cultures. A thumbs-up in one culture might mean something entirely different in another.

Pro Tip: Collaborate with sign language experts and the deaf community to ensure the gestures are both accurate and respectful.

Future Forecast

As AR tech continues to mature, the melding of sign language and gestural interfaces will pave the way for more intuitive, inclusive, and universal design. And as designers, by embracing and championing this concept now, we stay ahead of industry trends and pave the way for an AR revolution.

AR is more than just visual overlays — it’s about intuitive interaction. And what better way to interact than with a language system that’s already stood the test of time? By integrating sign language-inspired gestures into our AR interfaces, we’re not just being innovative; we’re making a statement about inclusivity and user-centric design.

So, designers, it’s time to roll up those sleeves and dive into the beautiful world of sign language. Let’s redefine the future of AR together!