World renowned scientist Stephen Hawking will be able to better
communicate his ideas about fundamental physics after the technology
that interprets his speech was upgraded with a new device.
of the degenerative disease affecting the 71-year-old physicist had
recently reduced him to composing sentences at a rate of one word a
But now a team from computer hardware firm Intel have
created a device they believe will give the professor the ability to
compose five words a minute and even increase it to as many as ten,
the 'Daily Mail' reported.
The scientist has for the past ten
years composed his sentences one letter at a time using a twitch of his
cheek to stop a cursor as it moves across an on-screen keyboard.
he painstakingly crafts his sentences one word at a time, a computer
attached to his wheelchair reads them out in the distinctive metallic
voice for which he is known.
But recently the motor neuron disease
from which he suffers has made his cheek twitch more difficult to
control, significantly slowing the rate at which one of the world's
sharpest minds is able to communicate with the outside world.
began working on Professor Hawking's new device in 2011, after he asked
for help from Intel co-founder Gordon Moore - the man behind
computing's famous 'Moore's Law', which says processing power will
double every two years.
The new system uses facial recognition
technology to recognise not only Hawking's cheek movements, but also
twitches from his mouth and eyebrows to send words to a new speech
Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, told
Scientific American magazine that the upgrade comes after technology
finally caught up with the complicated concepts Hawking wanted to
"We've built a new, character-driven interface in modern terms that includes a better word predictor," he said.
to now, [previous] technologies didn't work well enough to satisfy
someone like Stephen, who wants to produce a lot of information," he
The new technology offers the professor the opportunity to
use two different signals to express himself, which means he could even
communicate using Morse code which, said Rattner, 'would be a great
Hawking took to his personal blog to tell how grateful he is for the new technology that allows him to continue to speak.
voice is very important. If you have a slurred voice, people are likely
to treat you as mentally deficient," he was quoted by the paper as
"This [computer] synthesiser is by far the best I have heard, because it varies the intonation, and doesn't speak like a Dalek.
The only trouble is that it gives me an American accent," he wrote.