We often think of Microsoft’s Kinect as a cool part of video games, but researchers created a new prototype that uses Kinect to translate sign language into spoken and written words and spoken words into sign.

The new accessibility tool is the result of a collaboration between Microsoft Research Asia, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Union University.

The system captures a conversation from both sides: the person who is deaf signs, with a written and spoken translation rendered in real-time, while the system takes a speaking person’s words and turns them into accurate, understandable signs. “Sign language translator uses Kinect as a bridge between the deaf and hearing.”

Read more about this exciting development over at The Fire Hose blog