Suffering from motor neuron disease, Hawking has been communicating through selection of letters through a voluntary twitch in his cheek. But, his ability to rapidly select these letters has been deteriorating following his health conditions. The 71-year-old contacted Gordon Moore requesting Intel’s assistance in this matter.
Intel CTO Justin Rattner has revealed that they are working towards improving the speed at which Hawking communicates and that it’s not only the cheek that the scientist can twitch voluntarily. There are other facial expressions as well that the physicist can pull off which can be tapped to achieve faster communications.
While speaking to Scientific American, CTO revealed that Intel is developing a new interface and is working towards adding mouth and eyebrow movements to the existing system that will speed up the speed at which Hawking constructs sentences by forming 5 to 10 words per minute. Rattner said, "We've built a new, character-driven interface in modern terms that includes a better word predictor."
The CTO also revealed that Intel is exploring how facial-recognition software may be used to create a new interface that will be much faster than communicating through selection of individual letters and words.