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Scientists Working To Help Stephen Hawking Communicate

It’s truly ironic the most brilliant mind of this time has no means to communicate that brilliance to others. io9.com reveals that legendary physicist (and frequent Futurama guest star) Stephen Hawking’s neurological condition is getting worse every day, which led scientists and researchers at Stanford University to build a new device called the “iBrain” to help Hawking communicate with others. The device will be powered by his thoughts.

For the past 30 years, a motor neuron disease has decreased Hawking’s ability to speak. He communicates with a special pair of infrared glasses that detect twitches in his cheek but the 70-year-old physicist’s condition is worsening rendering these glasses almost useless.

The iBrain is a headband a user will wear while it collects data in real time, taking brain waves powered by thought and translates those brain waves into speech. At this point, the Stanford professor heading (no pun intended) the iBrain project, Philip Low, isn’t clear if the device is even possible but theoretically, it would help Hawking communicate. Low hypothesizes,

“The emergence of such biomarkers opens the possibility to link intended movements to a library of words and convert them into speech, thus providing motor neurone sufferers with communication tools more dependent on the brain than on the body.”


While Stanford scientists work on the iBrain, others are working with Hawking to help solve this problem. Intel has given him a special computer to communicate with his infrared glasses, along with a new webcam for Skype and a new voice synthesizer. They have also developed new face-recognition software to use in conjunction with new monitors and computer displays.

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