“The theme that cuts across all of the different research that I’m doing is how do you amplify human potential and reduce inequity in the society,” said Lama Nachman, the Intel scientist who built Stephen Hawking’s communication system is updating it, adding more artificial intelligence to it. Assistive computing for people with disabilities is one piece of that puzzle. She is trying to help Peter Scott Morgan, another scientist and roboticist. He has advanced Motor Neuron Disease, which is similar to ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease and is losing control of his body.
Nachman’s goal is to enhanced independence, capability, and empowerment for those who are losing control of their bodies. To build something like an AI-enabled exoskeleton-equipped human being. In short, a cyborg. And along with that, try to figure out some deep and fundamental questions about AI, life, and humans.
Stephen Hawking could control nearly one muscle in his body, his cheek. When Nachman worked on a communicator for Hawking, she placed a proximity sensor next to his cheek, dangling down his glasses. By flexing his cheek, Hawking could push a button or click on the attached mouse. This was how Intel built a hardware component for Hawking. The software component, however, was much harder. That required building a complete software platform on top of Windows so that Hawking could control an entire operating system from just one single button.
The system worked like old-fashioned radar: scanning for a horizontal line, then scanning for a vertical line. The intersection of the two lines was the point where Hawking needed to click the mouse in each of his attempts; it took literally minutes of interaction.
To avoid relapse in communication, Nachman and her team worked to built predictive technology that would anticipate what Hawking needed and automate it.
Now Nachman is working to provide this facility to thousands or millions differently-abled to use quickly and cheaply. Along with her team, she is getting very close to releasing that into open source is essentially utilizing a straightforward set of electrodes that you can have in a cap, very cheap system. This is a high fidelity, gazillion electrodes, will available in a few hundred dollars.
Also, Read: Hawking; The Interstellar Genius
The Dynamic and Energetic team Scientia.