- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Intel exploring ways to help Stephen Hawking speak
Question of the Day
CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND (AP) - Intel Corp. is looking for ways to help famed British physicist Stephen Hawking reverse the slowing of his speech, according to a senior executive with the American chipmaker.
Hawking was 21 when he was diagnosed Lou Gehrig’s disease, an incurable degenerative disorder that has left him almost completely paralyzed. While an infrared sensor attached to his glasses translates the pulses in his right cheek into words spoken by a voice synthesizer, the nerves in his face have deteriorated and those close to him say his rate of speech has slowed to about a word a minute.
Speaking late Sunday on the sidelines of a conference celebrating Hawking’s 70th birthday in the English city of Cambridge, Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner said his company had a team in England to explore ways to help the celebrity scientist communicate more quickly.
“This is a research project,” Rattner told The Associated Press, saying the team’s task was to gather data for further study.
Hawking has gained world renown as an expert on cosmology and the author of a best-selling series of books popularizing the field of theoretical astrophysics. His achievements have been all the more remarkable because of his condition. Most of those with Lou Gehrig’s disease die within two to five years of their diagnosis, but Hawking has spent nearly half a century carrying out pioneering research work.
Finding ways to keep Hawking communicating has long been a challenge. Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, attacks the cells that control muscles _ leading to weakness, slurred speech and paralysis.
Hawking managed to overcome his deteriorating speech for a while by dictating scientific papers to a secretary, or speaking through an interpreter. He lost his voice entirely after a tracheotomy in 1985, and a computer was built to synthesize his speech in a distinctive, robotic monotone that has since become almost as famous as the scientist himself.
At first, Hawking retained some limited hand movement and could manage about 15 words a minute. Now that even the nerves in Hawking’s cheek are beginning to fade, Rattner argued it was time for a new approach _ saying that solutions based on brainwaves or eye tracking were among the technologies being considered.
“My wager is some form of facial feature recognition will unlock it for Stephen,” he said.
The Santa Clara, California-based company has long provided Hawking with many of his technological needs _ including an upgrade of his speech software and the connection that links his wheelchair-mounted computer to the Internet.
TWT Video Picks
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- Houston mayor: Sorry that police put man's blind dog on road to die
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors