After a three-year collaboration, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking and tech-giant Intel have unveiled their new Assistive Context Aware Toolkit.
Known as the ACAT, the highly advanced computer system was created to replace Hawking’s old and clumsy system, the computer that enables the British scientist to communicate despite the motor neuron disease that has left him nearly completely paralyzed. Hawking’s old system was aged and clunky and in need of replacing.
“Medicine has not been able to cure me, so I rely on technology to help me communicate and live,” said Hawking in a press release. “Intel has been supporting me for almost 20 years, allowing me to do what I love every day. The development of this system has the potential to improve the lives of disabled people around the world and is leading the way in terms of human interaction and the ability to overcome communication boundaries that once stood in the way.”
Working with Hawking, researchers at Intel Labs created the communication system. The new device uses Intel-created software and is faster than Hawking’s previous computer and allows him to not only communicate better but complete simple tasks in an easier manner than before.
What’s best, though, is the fact Intel is not keeping the device to itself.
More than three million people across the globe are affected by quadriplegia and MND. Intel is making its toolkit and research available so it can be customized and changed to suit different users. This means researchers will be able to expand on the technology to assist others, like Hawking, worldwide.
Lama Nachman of Intel Labs was on hand for the revealing of the equipment in London.
“Technology for the disabled is often a proving ground for the technology of the future,” said Nachman in the release. “From communications to genetic research, technology is beginning to open doors to possibilities that can only be imagined.”