Computers

Intel updates Stephen Hawking's comms system

Intel updates Stephen Hawking'...
Intel has worked with Stephen Hawking for three years to create a new communications system called the Assistive Context Aware Toolkit
Intel has worked with Stephen Hawking for three years to create a new communications system called the Assistive Context Aware Toolkit
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Intel has worked with Stephen Hawking for three years to create a new communications system called the Assistive Context Aware Toolkit
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Intel has worked with Stephen Hawking for three years to create a new communications system called the Assistive Context Aware Toolkit
Professor Stephen Hawking and his Care Taker Pete read the newspaper
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Professor Stephen Hawking and his Care Taker Pete read the newspaper
Professor Stephen Hawking with the team who worked on his new Intel-powered communications system: (left to right) Steven Spencer, SwiftKey; Joe Osbourne, SwiftKey; Jonathan Wood, Hawking's personal assistant; and Lama Nachman, Intel
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Professor Stephen Hawking with the team who worked on his new Intel-powered communications system: (left to right) Steven Spencer, SwiftKey; Joe Osbourne, SwiftKey; Jonathan Wood, Hawking's personal assistant; and Lama Nachman, Intel
Professor Stephen Hawking with Personal Assistant Jonathan Wood
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Professor Stephen Hawking with Personal Assistant Jonathan Wood
Professor Stephen Hawking and Intel Principal Engineer Lama Nachman
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Professor Stephen Hawking and Intel Principal Engineer Lama Nachman
Professor Stephen Hawking has revealed a new Intel-powered communications system
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Professor Stephen Hawking has revealed a new Intel-powered communications system
Intel has worked with Stephen Hawking for three years to create a new communications system called the Assistive Context Aware Toolkit
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Intel has worked with Stephen Hawking for three years to create a new communications system called the Assistive Context Aware Toolkit
Intel Principal Engineer Lama Nachman and Professor Stephen Hawking revealed his new Intel powered communications system in London
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Intel Principal Engineer Lama Nachman and Professor Stephen Hawking revealed his new Intel powered communications system in London
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With exception of a new voice in 2004, Stephen Hawking's input interface has remained much the same for decades. Now Intel has created a new system called the Assistive Context Aware Toolkit (ACAT) that allows him to carry out tasks much faster than before.

Intel has sponsored and provided Hawking's communications system since 1997. Historically it has comprised a computer running a variety of different pieces of software. Text input and cursor control was carried out using the Words Plus application EZ Keys, with selections made using a cheek movement sensor mounted on his glasses.

With EZ Keys, Hawking has been able to use standard applications for his day-to-day work, such as Eudora for sending and receiving emails. Another piece of software written by Word Plus, called Equalizer, is used for synthesizing typed sentences into speech.

According to Intel, it has been working closely with Hawking for three years to develop a system to replace his existing setup. The ACAT is designed not only to help make his own communication easier, but can also be tailored for use by other individuals suffering from conditions such as motor neuron diseases and quadriplegia.

Professor Stephen Hawking with the team who worked on his new Intel-powered communications system: (left to right) Steven Spencer, SwiftKey; Joe Osbourne, SwiftKey; Jonathan Wood, Hawking's personal assistant; and Lama Nachman, Intel
Professor Stephen Hawking with the team who worked on his new Intel-powered communications system: (left to right) Steven Spencer, SwiftKey; Joe Osbourne, SwiftKey; Jonathan Wood, Hawking's personal assistant; and Lama Nachman, Intel

"Professor Hawking uniquely used technology to master communicating with the world for decades, but his old system could be likened to trying to use today's modern apps and websites with a computer without a keyboard or mouse," says Intel vice president and Intel Labs managing director Wen-Hann Wang. "Together we've delivered a holistically better communication experience that contributes to his continued independence and can help open the door to increased independence for others."

Hawking's existing cheek sensor is used to detect the selection of onscreen characters, but the typing process has been improved by the integration of SwiftKey technology. Best known as the popular smartphone keyboard, SwiftKey has been able to double the speed of Hawking's typing by better predicting what he's likely to say and allowing him to input less than 20 percent of all characters.

Elsewhere, the task of switching between his communications software and other applications has been made more efficient. Instead of having to manually navigate between windows, the process has now been automated, allowing tasks to be carried out up to ten times faster than previously.

ACAT can be customized for use with touch, eye blinks, eyebrow movements or other inputs. Hawking and Intel expect other solutions to be created using the toolkit. It will be made available from January next year and will be free to use.

In the video below, Hawking discusses his use of technology for communication.

Sources: Intel, Stephen Hawking

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3 comments
f8lee
This is quite nice to learn about, and hopefully will make Professor Hawking more of a shoe-in to become the next Bond mega-bad-guy!
Quarlsnarg
f8lee; Didn't you know, He is actually Moriarty! Seriously though, this is incredible keeping Professor Hawking on the edge of technology! What's next, uploading his conciseness into a fully functional android body like Data? No Like Van Damn in Universal Solder! (real skin over endoskeleton)... That way he can feel...... (get your mind out of the gutter)... Ok i admit it!
Bob
He must have been impressed. Interestingly, Hawking's next article was about AI"s ability to destroy mankind in a few years.