Professor Philip Low said that the aim of his work was to allow Prof Hawking to effectively write words with his brain pattern. Currently, Hawking communicates purely through a device which interprets his cheek movements.
Prof Hawking was struck by motor neurone disease in 1963. Despite outliving all the doctor’s estimates, the Professor remains incapable of speech due to the condition.
Previously, Hawking had been able to use his thumb to control a cursor and write sentences. However, following his condition worsening, he became reliant on an infrared device that detects movements in his cheek.
As his nerves deteriorate, so too does his rate of speech. Prof Hawking can now only communicate one word per minute which has forced him to look for a new solution.
There is also a fear, as with other motor neurone disease suffers, that Hawking may eventually develop “locked-in syndrome”. This happens when the body cannot offer any means to communicate, effectively leaving the sufferer locked in a body that cannot speak.
Facing this, Prof Hawking allowed Prof Low to scan his brain using what Low calls the iBrain.
The iBrain records brain waves through electrical activity monitored by a headset. The professor said he had software which allows him to analyse the data recorded and detect frequencies previously thought unrecordable thanks to the skull.
"An analogy would be that as you walk away from a concert hall where there's music from a range of instruments," he told the BBC.
"As you go further away you will stop hearing high frequency elements like the violin and viola, but still hear the trombone and the cello. Well, the further you are away from the brain the more you lose the high frequency patterns.
"What we have done is found them and teased them back using the algorithm so they can be used."
Further work needs to be done before Prof Low can put the information to use, but he hopes he can discover the different thoughts that would move a body part, and interpret those.