Tech by VICE

Stephen Hawking’s Speech Software Is Now Open Source and Free to Use

Intel has released the voice.

by John Wenz
Aug 18 2015, 7:04pm

Photo: Lwp Kommunikáció/Flickr

Stephen Hawking has, for decades, had the most recognizable computer voices out there. It even got an upgrade late last year. But now the voice has been released by Intel completely free and open source, allowing anyone to access the sophisticated software that's given a voice to one of the most well known theoretical astrophysicists out there.

Thus far, the ACAT software is only available for Windows users, with no Apple port on the horizon. However, since it's open source, an enterprising developer could change all of that. "The goal of open sourcing this is to enable developers to create solutions in the assistive space with ease, and have them leverage what we have invested years of effort in," Lama Nachman, an Intel principal engineer in the Anticipatory Computer Lab, told Wired.

There are still plenty of hardware needs to have an ACAT system up and running, including facial recognition software that tracks minute tics. But by licensing the software as open source, developers can help create new features that improve access for users, or help with compatibility with less expensive hardware set-ups. It short, it makes one of the most sophisticated accessibility platforms free to use, improve, and tailor to specific user needs.