At the Cambridge Evening News (our usual morning must-see), we read that Stephen Hawking, a world famous physicist and a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), is now using Infrared/Sound/Touch (IST) switch, a communication device developed by the American company Words+.
According to the the Cambridge Evening News:
David Pond, Prof Hawking’s graduate assistant at Cambridge University, said: “His hand has been slowing down.
“He wants to fight all the way but he recognises he needs a better way to communicate. He started using the switch two months ago. It’s very simple to use and it’s going really well.”
The Infrared/Sound/Touch (IST) switch, developed by the American company Words+, emits a very low-powered infrared beam. The reflection of the beam changes when the eye is closed and the cheek muscle moves and so controlling the computer is as simple as blinking.
It is attached to Professor Hawking’s glasses an inch from his cheek to detect the moving muscle.
Experts at the Electronics Department at Cambridge University are now working on making the gadget smaller and more user friendly.
Design engineer Richard Taylor said: “It’s quite a large challenge in terms of making something that’s more reliable. That will be the most difficult part. In terms of making it less obtrusive that should be much easier.
“We are currently at the research stage so it’s difficult at the moment to know how much work this will require.”