Hawking's assistive software available for free!

By definition, most people here are not too badly affected to use a computer, but if you feel that day is coming, or have a friend more severely disabled than you, you may be interested to know that the assistive software used by Professor Stephen Hawking is being rolled out for free (which, apparently, has always been his wish).

Article here:



Cheers for letting us know Tina


Thanks for replying, Poll.

I thought this was quite an exciting and inspiring development. Judging by the lack of reaction, though, I’m on my own (apart from you, bless you!) and it leaves most forum users stone cold.

Perhaps people just don’t like to think about a time when they might need it?

I don’t either, and hope it won’t happen. On the other hand, I think it’s very positive news that IF the worst happens, the technology will not only be out there, but free. I know it doesn’t let you make yourself tea and a sandwich (yet!), but communication and access to the internet are absolutely huge benefits.



Hopefully you will be able to change the voice :wink:

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yes Tina it should help many people in a huge way pobably

some of us on hear I will be keeping an eye on this

I was excited by it, and told my hubby (who is a software engineer, therefore a complete geek…), and he just turned around and said ‘yeah, I know’… That burst my bubble! I am tempted to get it and try using it, just to see what it’s like. I don’t need it, but I had always wondered how Steven Hawking worked his computer. Can you imagine what life would be like for him without technology…

Sorry Tina. Yes good news. Couldn’t think of anything appropriate to say about it, so didn’t comment… :smiley: hugs and ice cream, Andy

There is research (unrelated, I think) going on into that as well. Obviously, if you have a degenerative illness, it’s preferable to collect speech samples before your speech is impaired. But there has been some work with already speech-impaired people that samples a range of sounds they are able to make, and melds these (not sure what the technical term is) with the speech patterns of a non-speech impaired person, so they get a more natural, human-sounding voice, and one that at least partially captures what their own speech would be like, even if it’s mixed with that of another person. Because it includes their own speech patterns, the resulting voice is unique to them, just like people’s natural voices.

If the non speech-impaired volunteer’s voice is melded with that of another speech-impaired person, the two results don’t come out sounding the same, because they have the unique speech characteristics of the person they were developed for.


I’ve been tempted to get it and have a play, as well, Loretta. But as my iPad keeps “correcting” (haha) your name to: “Lotta”, I hope it works better than that!

I’m not sure if it’s morbid and pessimistic to grab it and have a go, or sensible and farsighted to acquaint ourselves with technology BEFORE we ever need it. On the other hand, I don’t have a practice with sticks and wheelchairs, just in case, but they don’t sound quite as much fun as having a dabble with technology at your leisure.

I assume some kind of peripheral device would be needed, though (probably NOT free). Or can it register blinks or whatever just from your computer’s normal webcam?

I think it’s mostly for developers at the moment, who want to design stuff to go with it, but anyone can download and play around. I might do it, just for fun.


Haha. Glad I’m not completely alone in thinking this good news. I think technology has huge potential to improve the lives of disabled people.

No, it’s not going to be able to offer personal care for the foreseeable future, but imagine having a fully automated house, where you could draw the curtains, adjust the heating, switch lights, TV on and off, make and receive phone calls etc, all from your wheelchair or armchair. Basically have control over your environment, without having to ask someone: “Could you switch that on for me? Could you turn the heating down, I’m hot!” and so on.

Of course, I’m sure it will greatly appeal to lazy people, as well.

I remember, in my student days, two fellow students turning up at our flatshare for the evening, because…wait for it…their TV remote was broken! Oh the hardship, having to change channel manually. How did we ever manage? :wink:

Mmmm, ice cream - yum! Too bad it’s only virtual ice cream. The van will be round in about five hours!



I’d change the voice to Yoda and annoy people immensely but in a funny way…

I’m not sure you could change it to Yoda unless you collected voice samples from…Yoda.

An idea that is…

I would stick with the current voice - people would think you are intelligent!

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Yeah, that’d never happen… :wink:

Thanks for letting us know. (I been on here for a couple of days.)