The speech system used by Stephen Hawking is now free for everyone

Stephen Hawking

Intel has released the open-source code of the speech system it made and developed for Stephen Hawking.

Called the Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT), the system was developed to help Hawking, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, communicate using very little movement.

ACAT currently uses an infrared sensor or camera, which detects facial movements, while the computer interface uses these movements to select letters and a predictive software helps complete full words. The interface can also be used to access the internet or to use different programs.

Expanding uses

By releasing the source code, project leaders behind ACAT are hoping the developers will be able to modify and expand the uses of the system.

"After Intel deployed the system to Professor Hawking, we turned our attention to the larger community and continued to make ACAT more configurable to support a larger set of users with different conditions," Intel said on its website.

"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."

ACAT is now available to download through GitHub, while Intel's site provides other documentation and guides too, but you should note that it is only available for PCs right now.

Via Wired