Intel Helps Millions Suffering from Disabilities Find Their Voice

Intel researchers with Stephen Hawking. Photo from


For the three million people around the globe who suffer from quadriplegia and motor neuron disease, relief is on its way. Intel has created a free, open source speech software for renowned professor and physicist Stephen Hawking, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. This software can be developed and suited to assist anyone living with these conditions, according to

The system, called ACAT (Assistive Context Aware Toolkit) allows Hawking to speak effectively through eyebrow movements, eye blinks, and touch. Without it, he would not be able to speak. His previous system was so out of date that he was only able to speak one word per minute, according to ACAT is enabling Hawking to once again give lectures and write twice as fast as before.

The remaining research of ACAT will be made open source in January 2015. It is the hope of Hawking and Intel that universities and researchers will further develop the system so the millions of people who are unable to communicate effectively can finally have a voice.

“We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with technology, without it I would not be able to speak to you today,” said Hawking.