Physicist Stephen Hawking may be one of the smartest people in the world, but his body, wracked by degenerative motor neuron disease, has left him almost unable to communicate. Although he famously “speaks” through a computerized speech generator, the system he uses is painfully and frustratingly slow, translating twitches in Hawking’s cheek into words, one letter at a time. Hawking can only “type” about one word a minute due to his worsening physical condition.
But that might soon change. At this month’s Consumer Electronics Show, chipmaker giant Intel announced it was working on a new system that could allow Hawking to type five words a minute, and maybe as many as 10. Intel has been helping Hawking with communication technology for more than two decades.