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(Pocket-lint) - Professor Stephen Hawking's bespoke communication system uses SwiftKey technology to help him write and talk to the world. The company's text prediction tech, much like that found in its Android and iPhone applications, is integrated into the scientist's equipment.

Having suffered from motor neurone disease for most of his life, Professor Hawking requires the aid of computer systems to communicate his ideas, thoughts and speech. A combination of Intel-built hardware and SwiftKey software enables him to accurately and speedily choose words rather than individual characters in order to construct sentences in a far faster fashion.


The collaboration was revealed when Professor Hawking spoke at a London seminar with representatives of Intel and SwiftKey.

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A movie celebrating his life, The Theory of Everything, opened in cinemas last week.

"Our involvement with Professor Hawking and his team began approximately two years ago, and it soon became clear that there was scope for improvement in his text-to-speech system," said Joe Osborne, team lead for the SwiftKey SDK.

"We were given access to a corpus of text generated by Professor Hawking himself from which we built a customised language model. This was a hand-built model that allowed us to personalise his language - that is, predict his next words from words he had previously inputted - from a more varied source of data such as emails and transcripts from speeches and books. Working with the team at Intel, we developed and they validated the model in tests."

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The software will continually learn from Professor Hawking's future use, more accurately predicting his next words over time.

Writing by Rik Henderson.