Physicist and best-selling author Stephen Hawking appears in Seattle, June 16. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Stephen Hawking, the famed theoretical physicist diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, lost the ability to speak 30 years ago. In the meantime, a computerized voice generated by an infrared sensor inside Hawking’s mouth has allowed him to communicate. According to a January report in The Telegraph, however, the muscles controlling the device have been deteriorating, limiting him to as little as one word per minute, according to his assistant Judith Croasdell.

Neurovigil's iBrain headband records brainwave data while the user is sleeping. The data can be used to monitor sleep activity, which could help researchers identify disease patterns. (COURTESY OF NEUROVIGIL)

Without a new means of communication, Hawking runs the risk of being rendered mute -- a horrifying prospect for the scientific community that has benefitted greatly from his findings.

But a new device called the iBrain may significantly improve Hawkings’s ability to communicate. The device was developed by Stanford University professor Philip Low and can record brain function at an unprecedented level of detail, The Telegraph reported Monday. The two scientists, Hawking and Low, have been working on the device for over a year and plan to demonstrate it in Hawking’s home town of Cambridge, England next month.

Low is the CEO of NeuroVigil, the San Diego-based company that created the iBrain. The device was created with the intention of using it as an at-home sleep monitoring device.

(The Telegraph via Reddit)

Read more news and ideas on Innovations:

The low-wage ‘genius’ of Apple

The Internet’s monster mash

Is it time for a new era of decency?