10:05 GMT15 June 2021
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    The speech system developed exclusively for Stephen Hawking, the world’s most renowned theoretical physicist, has been publically released as open-source code.

    Stephen Hawking's dream of making his speech software publicly available has come true. Developed by Intel over the past 20 years, the technology allows the renowned physicist to communicate with the world. It is now free to download as open-source code.

    The Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT) can be hugely beneficial for anyone with motor neuron diseases and other disabilities. The software allows individuals with motor deficiencies to write, talk, create documents and navigate the Web like Hawking does.

    The version of the program currently used by Hawking employs a webcam which can interpret facial cues and translate those cues into words. It can also carry out surprisingly accurate application commands online.

    Researchers, who always intended to make the software publicly available, encourage developers and engineers to further expand the system with new features.

    "Our hope is that, by open sourcing this configurable platform, developers will continue to expand on this system by adding new user interfaces, new sensing modalities, word prediction and many other features," ACAT's project owner, Sai Prasad, wrote on Intel's website.

    So far, the software is only available on PC, and can be downloaded here. Detailed user guides and support contacts can be found on a separate website hosted by Intel.

    Stephen Hawking was a key contributor to the software's initial design, and future improvements could make ACAT an invaluable communication tool for the human race.


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