Stephen Hawking’s speech system has been released by Intel as open-source code. The company is hoping that developers will tinker with it and expand its application to a wider range of disabilities.
The Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT) gives differently abled users the opportunity to use computers with very little movement, and was developed to help Hawking, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) communicate by translating his facial movements into text.
The technology is made up of three parts: the input from an infrared sensor or webcam that detects facial movements, the interface that selects letters to form words, and the autocomplete-like software that predicts what the user is typing. The software’s virtual keyboard can also be used to select and utilize different programs, and browse the internet.
The software is only available for PC
"Our hope is that, by open sourcing this configurable platform, developers will continue to expand on this system by adding new user interfaces, new sensing modalities, word prediction and many other features," Sai Prasad, ACAT’s project owner, wrote on Intel’s website.
ACAT isn’t really meant for the average user just yet, although according to Wired, Intel is currently working with end users and patients to test the system. And while developers can go to town playing with the technology, ACAT is only available for PCs. The software and the user guide — which includes advanced navigation techniques — can be found on Github.