Design and Realization of a Sign Language Educational Humanoid Robot

  • Ali MeghdariEmail author
  • Minoo AlemiEmail author
  • Mohammad Zakipour
  • Seyed Amir Kashanian


This paper introduces a novel robotic platform, called RASA (Robot Assistant for Social Aims). This educational social robot is designed and constructed to facilitate teaching Persian Sign Language (PSL) to children with hearing disabilities. There are three predominant characteristics from which design guidelines of the robot are generated. First, the robot is designed as a fully functional interactive social robot with children as its social service recipients. Second, it comes with the ability to perform PSL, which demands a dexterous upper-body of 29 actuated degrees of freedom. Third, it has a relatively low development cost for a robot in its category. This funded project, addresses the challenges resulting from the at times divergent requirements of these characteristics. Accordingly, the hardware design of the robot is discussed, and an evaluation of its sign language realization performance has been carried out. The inspected recognition rates of certain signs of PSL, performed by RASA, have also been reported.


Social child-robot interaction Hardware design Sign language Hearing impaired children 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This project is in part supported and funded by the Iranian National Science Foundation-INSF ( and the Office of the Vice-President in Science and Technology, Iran. We appreciate the Iran Society of Deaf People Family (ISDPF) for providing the resources needed to conduct the survey reported in the article. Our gratitude also goes to the Iran Telecommunication Research Center-ITRC ( for their recent support to carry out the future steps of this ongoing project.


  1. 1.
    Kanda, T., et al.: Interactive robots as social partners and peer tutors for children: a field trial. Hum. Comput. Interact. 19(1), 61–84 (2004)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ishiguro, H., et al.: Robovie: an interactive humanoid robot. Industrial Robot: an International Journal 28 (6), 498–504 (2001)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Han, J., Kim, D.: r-learning services for elementary school students with a teaching assistant robot. In: 2009 4th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). IEEE (2009)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chang, C.-W., et al.: Exploring the possibility of using humanoid robots as instructional tools for teaching a second language in primary school. Educ. Technol. Soc. 13(2), 13–24 (2010)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sugimoto, M.: A mobile mixed-reality environment for children’s storytelling using a handheld projector and a robot. IEEE Trans. Learn. Technol. 4(3), 249–260 (2011)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Alemi, M., Meghdari, A., Ghazisaedy, M.: Employing humanoid robots for teaching english language in iranian junior high-schools. Int. J. Humanoid Rob. 11(03), 1450022 (2014)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Courtin, C.: The impact of sign language on the cognitive development of deaf children the case of theories of mind. J. Deaf. Stud. Deaf. Educ. 5(3), 266–276 (2000)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Marschark, M., Hauser, P.C.: How Deaf Children Learn: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know. OUP, New York (2011)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Freel, B.L., et al.: Deaf individuals’ bilingual abilities: American sign language proficiency, reading skills, and family characteristics. Psychology 2(01), 18 (2011)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mellon, N.K., et al.: Should all deaf children learn sign language? Pediatrics 136(1), 170–176 (2015)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Klaudia, K.: The benefits of sign language for deaf children with and without cochlear implant (s). European Scientific Journal 4 (2013)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kose, H., et al.: Evaluation of the robot assisted sign language tutoring using video-based studies. Int. J. Soc. Robot. 4(3), 273–283 (2012)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kose, H., Akalin, N., Uluer, P.: Socially interactive robotic platforms as sign language tutors. Int. J. Humanoid Rob. 11(01), 1450003 (2014)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Köse, H., et al.: The effect of embodiment in sign language tutoring with assistive humanoid robots. Int. J. Soc. Robot. 7(4), 537–548 (2015)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Janssen, J.B., et al.: Motivating Children to Learn Arithmetic with an Adaptive Robot Game. Springer, Berlin (2011)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nalin, M., et al.: Children’s adaptation in multi-session interaction with a humanoid robot. In: RO-MAN, 2012 IEEE. IEEE (2012)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gouaillier, D., et al.: Mechatronic design of NAO humanoid. In: IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2009. ICRA’09. IEEE (2009)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Diftler, M.A., et al.: Robonaut 2-The First Humanoid Robot in Space. In: 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). IEEE (2011)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Metta, G., et al.: The iCub humanoid robot: an open platform for research in embodied cognition. In: Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Performance Metrics for Intelligent Systems. ACM (2008)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Asimo specifications. Available from:
  21. 21.
    Duffy, B.R.: Anthropomorphism and the social robot. Robot. Auton. Syst. 42(3), 177–190 (2003)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fink, J.: Anthropomorphism and human likeness in the design of robots and human-robot interaction. In: International Conference on Social Robotics. Springer (2012)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mori, M., MacDorman, K.F., Kageki, N.: The uncanny valley [from the field]. IEEE Robot. Autom. Mag. 19(2), 98–100 (2012)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Fong, T., Nourbakhsh, I., Dautenhahn, K.: A survey of socially interactive robots. Robot. Auton. Syst. 42(3), 143–166 (2003)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Woods, S.: Exploring the design space of robots: children’s perspectives. Interact. Comput. 18(6), 1390–1418 (2006)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Valli, C., Lucas, C.: Linguistics of American Sign Language: an Introduction. Gallaudet Univ Press, Washington (2000)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Stokoe, W.C.: Sign language structure: an outline of the visual communication systems of the American deaf. J. Deaf. Stud. Deaf. Educ. 10(1), 3–37 (2005)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sanjabi, A., et al.: Zaban eshareh irani (ZEI) and its fingerspelling system. Sign Language Studies 16(4), 500–534 (2016)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Cipriani, C., Controzzi, M., Carrozza, M.C.: The SmartHand transradial prosthesis. J. Neuroeng. Rehabil. 8(1), 1 (2011)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Schmitz, A., et al.: Design, realization and sensorization of the dexterous icub hand. In: 2010 10th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids). IEEE (2010)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hirose, S., Umetani, Y.: The development of soft gripper for the versatile robot hand. Mech. Mach. Theory 13(3), 351–359 (1978)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Saldien, J., et al.: Expressing emotions with the social robot probo. Int. J. Soc. Robot. 2(4), 377–389 (2010)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hegel, F., Eyssel, F., Wrede, B.: The social robot ‘flobi’: key concepts of industrial design. In: RO-MAN, 2010, IEEE. IEEE (2010)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ghorbandaei Pour, A., Taheri, A., Alemi, M., Meghdari, A.: Human–robot facial expression reciprocal interaction platform: case studies on children with autism. Int. J. Soc. Robot. 10(2), 179–198 (2018)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Landis, J.R., Koch, G.G.: The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics 33(1), 159–174 (1977)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Breazeal, C.L.: Designing Sociable Robots. MIT Press, Cambridge (2004)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tamaddoni, S.H., Jafari, F., Meghdari, A., Sohrabpour, S.: Biped hopping control based on spring loaded inverted pendulum model. Int. J. Humanoid Rob. 7(2), 263–280 (2010)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Taheri, A.R., Alemi, M., Meghdari, A., et al.: Clinical application of humanoid robots in playing imitation games for autistic children in Iran. Procedia. Soc. Behav. Sci. 176, 898–906 (2015)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Meghdari, A., Fahimi, F.: On the first-order decoupling of dynamical equations of motion for elastic multibody systems as applied to a two-link manipulator. Multibody Sys. Dyn. 5(1), 1–20 (2001)zbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social & Cognitive Robotics Laboratory, Center of Excellence in Design, Robotics and Automation (CEDRA)Sharif University of TechnologyTehranIran
  2. 2.Faculty of Humanities, West-Tehran BranchIslamic Azad UniversityTehranIran

Personalised recommendations