Emma the Yellow Wiggle’s new move

YELLOW Wiggle Emma Watkins has revealed she has another dream beyond singing and dancing on stage for kids around the world.

As she heads into her first day of The Wiggles' national tour today with "butterflies of nerves", she told News Corp Australia she wants to help teach deaf children how to read and enjoy regular story books.

Ms Watkins regularly uses sign language during her Wiggles shows with deaf children and their parents all-year round.

"I can tell in the first five minutes if there's a deaf parent or children in the show," she said.

"Songs can be going on and I'll be having a conversation without anyone understanding it except them.

"As soon as the curtain opens if there is a deaf family, they'll sign to me."

Now, The Wiggles' star is the latest celebrity to be signed on by controversial tech company Huawei as an ambassador for the Australian launch of its StorySign app.

The app uses Artificial Intelligence to create a reading experience for kids who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Emma Watkins from The Wiggles. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts
Emma Watkins from The Wiggles. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts

It works with a smartphone and book, allowing kids to position the phone at an angle so a friendly avatar named Star comes up.

Star then helps kids translate popular books like 'Where's Spot?' into perfect sign language page by page.

The app, which exists overseas, is now available in Auslan, the sign language of Australia's deaf community.

Ms Watkins said she's love to become a hi-tech avatar for kids one day on the app.

"That's my long term aim, it's so new, I've only just heard about this app," she said.

"My dream would be that we'd be able to tell a Wiggles story and have Emma as the avatar and signing to kids … it's almost part of how Emma the Wiggle communicates.

"She sings, dances, signs … there's lots of different ways she talks to children."

Ms Watkins, who is currently studying for a PhD in the creative integration of sign language, dance and film editing, said the app has incredible capabilities.

A screenshot of how the StorySign app works with a children's book. Picture: Supplied
A screenshot of how the StorySign app works with a children's book. Picture: Supplied


"I was really shocked as I was wondering how is this going to turn out … when the sign language is happening with the avatar on the right, the word is highlighted on the page, so children can understand which sign matches which word which is so good," she said.

To raise awareness of deaf literacy, Huawei Australia also has a partnership with Deaf Australia, to encourage support and donation for those affected with hard of hearing.

When asked if she was concerned about the backlash Huawei has had from countries across the world, she said she didn't think it was an issue for the StorySign app.

"I think for us as The Wiggles, we're so excited to be raising awareness of sign language, particularly Australian Sign Language, that's our biggest priority, that's where our focus lies," she said.

"With this app it's available on all Android phones, even though some Huawei phones aren't available here," she added.

Huawei is currently blocked from rolling out 5G infrastructure in Australia.

The Chinese tech giant is also challenging a US law that limits its sales of telecom equipment in the US on security grounds as the company steps up efforts to preserve its access to global markets for next-generation communications.

It comes as the biggest global maker of network equipment fights an American campaign to persuade allies to shun Huawei.

That threatens to block access to major markets as phone carriers prepare to invest billions of dollars in next- generation cellular networks, known as 5G.

Today, Germany's economy minister has said the country does not want to ban Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies from building its 5G networks, adding that Berlin would tighten security criteria for all vendors instead.

Asked on a television talk show if the government plans to bar Huawei from the upcoming 5G auction due to concerns over the global market leader's ties to the Chinese government, Peter Altmaier said: "No, we will not want to exclude any company."

But the government will change the law to ensure that all components used in the 5G networks will be secure and that there will be no violations against data protection rules, he added.

The announcement follows months of debate over whether to side with the United States and some allies in barring Huawei from 5G networks due to security and espionage concerns.