For Stephen Hawking, speaking is a process. It requires elaborate software that enables the professor to input text, send commands to apps on his computer, and verbally communicate using voice synthesis. Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT) is the software that enables all this. It was originally invented by Intel as proprietary software to specifically improve upon how Hawking interacted with his computer. Recently, Intel released the software to the open source community. This amazing piece of software is now available under a free software license to be downloaded, tinkered with and re-distributed by developers across the globe.

The software is specifically geared toward users who have disabilities. With Hawking, for example, it analyzes the movement in his cheek muscles, and from there sends a command to the computer to interpret the words he wants to use. The goal of open sourcing the software is to enable developers to improve upon it by leveraging what has taken Intel years to develop.

With open source software, collaborations such as these can lead to future innovations. Developers have the basis to create new and innovative applications without having to reinvent the wheel, leveraging open source software to create new assistive technologies.   However, it is important to keep in mind that open source software comes with a myriad of stringent rules. A licensing policy—to be established by Intel—will dictate the terms and conditions by which contributors must abide. Not adhering to the established rules can result in a legal battle, so developers must make sure they are in compliance when accessing open source software.

We have discussed before the critical role that open source plays in facilitating developers to create assistive technologies that directly improve the day-to-day lives of members of the special needs community or individuals who have physical disabilities.

To learn more about how to better manage your compliance and protect the integrity of open-sourced software, click here.