Intel has released ACAT, on public code-sharing forum GitHub. The speech software is the one that let Stephen Hawking ‘speak’ through a computer after a crippling motor neurone disease (MND) paralysed him permanently. The Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT) designed for Prof. Hawking has sensors that captured muscle movements of his cheek, transcribing the information it gathered into text, and delivering it to a speech synthesizer.
The open-sourcing of ACAT opens new dimensions for researchers to develop similar interfaces to further aid MND and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients, who have been crippled of their freedom of expression. Compatible with Windows 7 platforms and above, ACAT is capable of carrying out various intuitive response-based tasks. This move by Intel is being seen as a foray into developing remedial measures to battle handicaps that cripple response and reflex systems of the human nervous system.
Lama Nachman, Principal Engineer of Anticipatory Computing Labs at Intel, told the BBC that the ACAT has contextual menus to access all different parts of a computer, and her team has already tried out a variety of sensors. The open sourcing of the software by Intel is done in the hope that developers will take this augmentative technology further to provide more services for similarly handicapped individuals. The ACAT architecture already has an accelerometer sensor for people who can only use a finger, and a button input system for ones who can use just that. It is also capable of opening up a specific application or surfing the internet.
Sai Prasad, Research Scientist at Intel Corp. stated on 01.org, Intel’s open source forum, “Our hope is that, by open sourcing this configurable platform, developers will continue to expand on this system by adding new user interfaces, new sensing modalities, word prediction and many other features. ACAT is designed to run on Microsoft Windows machines (running Windows 7 and above) and can interface to different sensor inputs such as infrared switches, camera, push buttons, and more.”
The open-sourced software can be accessed from here. We, Team Digit, hope with all our hearts that this softwre will be used to empower many who have been left crippled such diseases.