Intel Researchers Bolster Efforts To Save Stephen Hawking’s Speech and Ability To Communicate

Physicist Stephen Hawking is revered as one of the most brilliant scientific minds this world as ever seen, and Intel's not taking that for granted. Despite having a degenerative motor neuron disease for the past 50 or so years, he has used technology in order to help him communicate and connect. In recent years, however, his condition has been failing, and he's only able to communicate at around one word per minute these days. Now, Intel is reportedly working on a new system that would use his "cheek twitch as well as mouth and eyebrow movements to provide signals to his computer." The study could provide new and innovative ways for handicapped individuals to communicate.

Intel CEO Justin Rattner has said that Hawking is actually able to make multiple facial expressions, and if taken into consideration, could speed up the rate at which his thoughts are processed and conveyed. Intel has been the company providing Hawking with expression tech since the late 1900s, but after a recent meeting, Rattner said: "Up to now, these technologies didn't work well enough to satisfy someone like Stephen, who wants to produce a lot of information."

Presently, Hawking uses a tablet with a front-facing webcam, while a box beneath his wheelchair has a radio amplifier, voltage regulators, and a USB key that takes inputs from an infrared sensor on his glasses. The new research is part of a larger effort to help humanity as a whole, Hawking including, as Intel hopes to use a camera, accelerometer, microphone, thermometer, and other items in order to do things faster. Of course, there's also tie-ins with the cloud, and now that mobile broadband is a reality, real-time processing could obviously be improved.

It's a pretty interesting tale, and it's certainly a fresh side of Intel that most people don't get to see.