The same technology that allows Stephen Hawking to communicate has been released by Intel under a free software license. In theory, this will allow anyone to tinker and use the tech with other utilities.
Dubbed ACAT (“assistive context-aware toolkit”), the system allows disabled users to seamlessly interact with computers. Elegant in design, it’s simple to understand. The technology “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,” according to Wired. All that your computer needs for that? A webcam will suffice.
But there are a few caveats. First, the software only runs on PC, and Intel has no intention of integrating the technology with Mac operating systems. Intel is #PCMasterRace.
Second, anyone could use the free software, but it’s not a toy. “The goal of open sourcing this is to enable developers to create solutions in the assistive space with ease, and have them leverage what we have invested years of effort in,” Nachman told Wired. “Our vision is to enable any developer or researcher who can bring in value in sensing, UI, word prediction, context awareness, etc. to build on top of this, and not have to reinvent the wheel since it is a large effort to do this.”
So no, this isn’t for making a sweet Stephen Hawking mixtape. But you can use it for something way more useful and productive. So if you’re what Nachman says this tool is ideal for, then tinker away!
Here, put this on for your montage.