The Assistive Context Aware Toolkit (ACAT) technology, used by famous physicist Stephen Hawking, is now open-source.

Hawking has a motor neuron disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has progressed over the years. He is almost entirely paralyzed and communicates through technology.

Designed to respond to one's facial movements, ACAT allows Hawking to communicate through speech as well as access his computer and deliver lectures.

Hawking's cheek sensor detects an infrared switch mounted to his glasses and helps him select a character on the computer. Integrating software from British language technology company SwiftKey helps the system predict Hawking's next characters and words. The information is then sent to an existing speech synthesizer to enable communication.

ACAT is the result of years of collaboration between Intel and Hawking. Intel believes the technology has the potential to become the backbone of a modern, customizable system. The open-source system has standard features available to all users, and then users add additional functions from there. The technology can be tailored for personal accessibility needs, enabled by touch, eye blinks, eyebrow movements, or other user inputs for communication.