A new speech system, created for famed physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, has been made available free and open source, creator Intel have announced. The project is called ACAT (Assistive Context Aware Toolkit) and has been in the making, through collaboration between Hawking and Intel, for the past three years.
Hawking said of the system, at a press conference in London, “We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with technology, without it I would not be able to speak to you today.” He added, “the development of this system has the potential to greatly improve the lives of disabled people all over the world”.
Hawking, who is almost entirely paralysed by motor neuron disease (related to ALS), praised the efficiency of ACAT, since it has doubled his typing rate – SwiftKey integration means he types 20% fewer characters than before – and improved common tasks by a factor of ten.
Intel and Hawking hope the open source software will help millions of disabled people to communicate more easily.