Processing giant Intel is working on a solution to allow renowned physicist Steven Hawking to communicate faster.

Hawking, 70, has suffered from a degenerative motor neuron desease for half a century and is only able to speak using a computer that picks up voluntary twitches in his cheek muscle.

Each twitch chooses a character from a screen in front of him, but as his condition has worsened, his speech has slowed and is currently down to one word per minute.

Amid fears that he may lose the ability to communicate completely, Intel believes it has made a breakthrough which could could help the scientist reach five or even ten words per minute.

Character-driven

Intel's chief technology officer Justin Rattner wants to make use of other areas of Hawking's face where he has limited motion, using the company's processing technology.

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.

"We've built a new, character-driven interface in modern terms that includes a better word predictor."

The company, which has been helping Hawking since the 90s, is also exploring using facial recognition tech to create a new UI altogether. Let's hope its efforts prove fruitful.

Via Scientific American