Intel has released ACAT (assistive context-aware toolkit) under an Apache license in the hopes that people will improve it — it only runs on Windows XP or better at the moment, and has a limited range of input-sensors.
ACAT uses visual cues in the user's face to understand commands—in the case of Professor Hawking, who has ALS, it tracks the movements of his cheek muscle. To use it, your computer simply needs to have a webcam. However, for users who might want or need more from ACAT, there are possibilities for other types of input down the road.
"We have been busy building different sensors and trying this out with patients," says Intel principal engineer Lama Nachman, who leads the Anticipatory Computer Lab at the company. Nachman says this experimenting includes proximity sensors, accelerometer-based sensors, and Intel's RealSense 3D camera. So if you have any of those things, then ACAT could become vastly more interesting in the future.
You Can Now Use Stephen Hawking's Speech Software for Free [Molly McHugh/Wired]
(Image: Stephen Hawking 050506, ²°¹°°, Public Domain)