A custom computer will help the world's top scientist continue his work even as his Lou Gehrig's disease progresses, as written for iQ by Intel.

Happy Birthday Stephen Hawking! Although Dr. Hawking has been paralyzed for decades by Lou Gehrig’s disease, it hasn’t stopped him from continuing his research into uncovering the secrets of the cosmos and earning the title as one of the world’s top scientists. And since 1997, one of Hawking’s many birthday gifts have come from Intel; every few years, Intel builds Dr. Hawking a custom-made computer that helps him communicate with the world.

When Hawking turned 71 on January 8th, Intel announced the company will develop a new system that will give him the ability to communicate faster, even as his disease progresses. Hawkings controls his current computer through cheek movements; the movement triggers an infrared switch attached to his glasses that allows him to select the characters of individual words on a screen in front of him. The process allows Hawkings to create a word a letter at a time, which is inefficient even with an iPhone-like autocomplete feature. Once he has constructed a sentence at about one word per minute, a digital voice synthesizer can speak it for him, allowing him to give lectures and talks.

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