For its work on developing a sign-language translator app, a team from Dr. Michael M. Krop High School won Best in State for the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
The challenge, which comes with a $5,000 award for winning schools, focuses on education, health and sustainability.
In addition to winning Best in State, the Krop team is setting its sight on winning the Fan Favorite Award, which given to the team with the most votes via text. That award comes with an extra $15,000 and a chance for the winning team to team up with MIT to actually create the app.
The app concept that Krop’s team created is called Languasign, a sign language translator.
“There’s one big thing that nobody knows: There are 170 or 180 sign languages throughout the world,” said Ben Manley,a Krop junior and captain of the team. “There’s a huge international inter-language barrier.”
Manley said his team had two goals when they created the idea for the app.
“Our first goal was to create an app that address basically all sign language. Our second goal was any translator app that exists today is only text-to-sign. So you can type in one word and get the sign for that word on video for American Sign Language.
“Our concept for our app is you do it both ways,” he said. “You can do it like that or a deaf person who uses sign language can video tape themselves signing to the camera and the video processing system will translate that into text.”
In addition to coming up with the concept of the app, each team has to submit a three-minute video describing the app. Manley believes this makes or breaks the submission.
“We’re really happy and we’re really proud of ourselves because it takes time,” he said.
Manley founded the Krop team when he was in ninth grade. The team won Best in State their first year.
Activities Director Michelle Russell lauded the work of the team at the Northeast Miami-Dade school.
“We’re extremely proud of them. We’ve come to not be surprised by the outstanding accomplishments of our students. It’s a culmination of their education, putting together something so creative and so intellectual,” Russell said.: “I want them to see their app become a reality. I think it would be an amazing tool for a high percentage of people in our community.”
Russell said the team worked hard with the help of mentor Debra Stein, a math teacher at the school.
Krop will continue to participate in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge because of the philosophy of Krop students which is to “push each other to achieve,” Russell said.
To vote for Krop’s team to win the Fan Favorite Award text LANGUASIGN1 to 22333. Each phone number can only vote once and will receive a confirmation saying “Thx 4 voting.”