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Start-up looks to convert Stephen Hawking's brainwaves into speech

  • An American scientist is set to unveil details of a study on the brain patterns of Professor Stephen Hawking, which could help protect the physicist's ability to communicate.

    Professor Philip Low aims to allow Hawking to "write" words with his brain.

    Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963. Two decades later, he was able to write sentences by using thumb movements to move a computer cursor.

    As his condition deteriorated, he switched to a system that detects movements in his right cheek using an infrared sensor attached to his glasses which measures changes in light.

    In 2011, he allowed Low to scan his brain using the iBrain device developed by Silicon Valley-based start-up Neurovigil.

    Low said the innovation would prevent the risk of locked-in syndrome.

    The iBrain is a headset that records brain waves through electrical activity recorded from the user's scalp.