Intel Trying to Help Stephen Hawking Speak

70-year-old cosmologist losing ability as facial nerves deteriorate
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2012 6:24 PM CST
Intel Trying to Help Stephen Hawking Speak
Stephen Hawking in a 2006 file photo. He just turned 70.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel-File)

Computer chip-maker Intel is hunting for a new technology to help Stephen Hawking communicate better, reports AP. The 70-year-old scientist currently uses a device that runs pulses in his right cheek through a voice synthesizer, but his facial nerves have deteriorated to the point where he can speak only about one word per minute.

Intel is exploring the potential use of technologies that read brainwaves and track the eyes, although the best bet, concludes Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner, would be on high-def cameras that decipher movements in Hawking's face and synthesize them into speech. "My wager is some form of facial feature recognition will unlock it for Stephen," he tells the news service. Click to read how Hawking is looking for a personal assistant. (More Stephen Hawking stories.)

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