Stephen Hawking, 73, has a motor neuron disease and is almost entirely paralysed. He relies on ACAT to speak. The speech system got a facelift last year, allowing the theoretical physicist to type faster, browse the internet easier and seamlessly switch between tasks.
The way it works. In Hawking’s case, his cheek sensor syncs with a switch on his glasses. This allows Hawking to choose characters he wishes to type that’ll be processed by his speech synthesizer and spoken out loud from his laptop.
“We have contextual menus to access all different parts of your computer,” noted Lama Nachman, principal engineer. “If you want to use Word, surf the web or speak you can use ACAT for that.”
Making ACAT an open source, Intel is hoping that the developers will be able to experiment and expand on the system by creating new software for sensors to connect with the system.
Euan MacDonald, an MND sufferer who runs a disabled access reviews on Euan’s Guide , said, “AAC is an absolutely fundamental part of my life. Unlike medical research, technology is moving very quickly and it’s exciting to see new things emerge every year. “The more that technology can help us express what we are thinking, the better,”