Interpretation of Swedish Sign Language using Convolutional Neural Networks and Transfer Learning

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS); KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: The automatic interpretation of signs of a sign language involves image recognition. An appropriate approach for this task is to use Deep Learning, and in particular, Convolutional Neural Networks. This method typically needs large amounts of data to be able to perform well. Transfer learning could be a feasible approach to achieve high accuracy despite using a small data set. The hypothesis of this thesis is to test if transfer learning works well to interpret the hand alphabet of the Swedish Sign Language. The goal of the project is to implement a model that can interpret signs, as well as to build a user-friendly web application for this purpose. The final testing accuracy of the model is 85%. Since this accuracy is comparable to those received in other studies, the project’s hypothesis is shown to be supported. The final network is based on the pre-trained model InceptionV3 with five frozen layers, and the optimization algorithm mini-batch gradient descent with a batch size of 32, and a step-size factor of 1.2. Transfer learning is used, however, not to the extent that the network became too specialized in the pre-trained model and its data. The network has shown to be unbiased for diverse testing data sets. Suggestions for future work include integrating dynamic signing data to interpret words and sentences, evaluating the method on another sign language’s hand alphabet, and integrate dynamic interpretation in the web application for several letters or words to be interpreted after each other. In the long run, this research could benefit deaf people who have access to technology and enhance good health, quality education, decent work, and reduced inequalities.

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