Professor Stephen Hawking is one of the smartest people on the planet, and he is also suffering from a debilitating disease that has left him confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. Intel stepped in years ago and gave Hawking back a voice using software that it developed called ACAT. ACAT stands for assistive context-aware toolkit.
Intel has announced that the software developed for Hawking is now available for anyone to use at no cost under a free software license. ACAT is designed to make computers more accessible for people with disabilities.
Users can now take advantage of the open source software to build a machine similar to the one Hawking uses to input text, send commands to applications, and communicate with people around him. The ACAT software is for PC only and it will work with operating systems back to XP.
ACAT is designed to use visual cues in the users face to understand commands. In Hawking’s case, the software tracks movement of his cheek muscle. A webcam is required and there are possibilities for other input methods to be used. Intel engineers have been trying different sensors with other patients to expand the capabilities of the system. Intel hopes that with ACAT being open source developers will create new solutions in the assistive space.