Over the last decade world renowned professor and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking's communication skills have been limited to just one word per minute. This has been a growing frustration for the cosmology scientist who has always made his lively giving lectures, teaching classes and dictating books. In 2011 Professor Hawking was able to get in touch with Intel co-founder Gordon Moore to see just what the chipmaker could do to enhance his communication capabilities.
Earlier this month Intel's CTO (chief technical officer) Justin Rattner told Scientific American that he has been heading up a group working on a new interface that would allow Professor Hawking to increase those capabilities up to anywhere between 5 and 10 words per minute. The interface will use facial recognition to be able to detect more movements than the voluntary cheek movement that the current interface uses.
The current system uses a camera that can detect Professor Hawking's cheek movements. Those movements are then used to click a cursor that is constantly moving over a virtual keyboard on a computer screen attached to the front of Professor Hawking's wheelchair. Once an entire sentence is completed a voice amplifier located underneath the wheelchair is activated and speaks that sentence in the computer generated voice.
In 1963 Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a motor neurone disease that has been slowly robbing him of the use of his body. The deterioration hasn't slowed professor Hawking as he went on to teach at Cambridge University, give lecture all over the world, dictate a couple of New York Time's best selling books and even guest star on Star Trek: The Next Generation where he appeared as a hologram playing poker. In 2007 Professor Hawking went from just being a hologram visit outer-space to actually going into space and being the first quadriplegic to experience zero-gravity.
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