Scientists build tool to "hack" into Stephen Hawking's brain

Scientists at the Stanford University are currently working on a technology which they believe can 'pick up brain waves and communicate them via computers' and they plan to use this technology on 70-year old Stephen Hawking, reports The Telegraph. The British theoretical physicist and author has been suffering from a motor neurone disease that is related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that has progressed over the years. Hawking is now almost completely paralysed and he communicates through a speech generating device. According to the report, Hawking has been working with Philip Low, a professor at Stanford, who is also the inventor of the iBrain. The report further elaborates on the tool and calls it a 'brain scanner that measures electrical activity'. The report further highlighted that the success of a technology like this would prove to be a major breakthrough in the field of medicine as it would make it possible to read a person's mind.

Low may demonstrate iBrain on Hawking (Image source:

Low may demonstrate iBrain on Hawking (Image source:



Reportedly, both Hawking and Low will reveal their results at a conference in Cambridge next month. In a release for the conference, both Hawking and Low reportedly described how the former had 'learnt to create patterns of impulses by imagining moving his hands and limbs.' Quoting Professor Low, the report adds, "We'd like to find a way to bypass his body, pretty much hack his brain."  Low was further quoted as saying, "This is very exciting for us because it allows us to have a window into the brain. We're building technology that will allow humanity to have access to the human brain for the first time. The emergence of such biomarkers opens the possibility to link intended movements to a library of words and convert them into speech, thus providing motor neurone sufferers with communication tools more dependent on the brain than on the body."


iBrain will not only benefit Hawking alone. Low believes that those suffering from sleep disorders, depression and even autism can hope to find a treatment too. Other possible areas of use for iBrain include doctors using it to 'prescribe the correct levels of medication based on a person's brainwave responses'.

Published Date: Jun 27, 2012 02:20 pm | Updated Date: Jun 27, 2012 02:20 pm