Stephen Hawking’s speech program is now open source and available to anyone

Stephen Hawking’s famous voice can now read aloud your speeches too.

The impressive technology that lets the paralyzed British physicist communicate has been open-sourced, meaning that anyone can use and change it as they see fit.

Hawking uses Intel’s Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit to speak despite a rare and prolonged form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that began paralyzing him decades ago. The release of the code means that millions of people can benefit from this technology, which can reportedly speed up common tasks by an order of magnitude.

Microsoft’s Mansib Rahman explored the software in depth, using his face to communicate with Hawking’s voice in an effort to better understand and popularize the technology.

Hawking, who cannot speak or move the majority of his body, uses his cheek to send commands to the computer. Using that small portion of his face, Hawking controls a virtual keyboard that predicts words in a similar way as the common smartphone feature. In fact, Hawking’s system uses a specialized version of SwiftKey tailored specifically to the scientist based on his previous speech and extensive written works.

Screengrab via Monty Python/YouTube 

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.