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Intel claims it can get Stephen Hawking talking

by on21 January 2013

Double the current speed

Intel claims it has new technology which can increase Hawking’s ability to communicate. Hawking, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease has seen his ability to communicate drop to one word per minute.

Intel, which has been providing Hawking with the technology he uses to communicate since the 1990s, developed a computer which was controlled by him twitching a muscle in his cheek. The twitch causes a cursor that moves constantly over a screen of letters and words to stop.  However this is very slow, for Hawking who is trying to communicate a large amount of information.

Intel thinks it has come up with a system which can get Hawking back up to 10 words a minute by using Morse code. They’ve also given the software Hawking uses better word-prediction and a new character-driven interface. But Intel is not stopping there.  It is exploring whether facial-recognition software could be used as a faster way for Hawking to communicate. The key to increasing the speed seems to be getting away from needing Hawking to select individual letters or words.

Intel will use a combination of sensors and software to move forward with their context aware systems. They hope this could give our devices a better sense of how and why we use them, and how our needs change with new information. Google Now is an early example of context-aware software.

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